The Dupras family has been regulars at the Babine River and have seen plentiful grizzlies over the years. (Jay Dupras photo/Lakes District News)

The Dupras family has been regulars at the Babine River and have seen plentiful grizzlies over the years. (Jay Dupras photo/Lakes District News)

A family’s close encounter with a grizzly on Babine River bridge

Photo-enthusiasts let the bear access the bridge for photos putting others at risk

When a group of five arrived at the Babine River bridge, little did they imagine that they would have a close encounter with a massive Grizzly.

Jay Dupras, his father, his nephew, son and his best friend were all at the Babine River bridge on Sept. 30 between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to check river conditions for steelhead fishing for next day.

“There were already a couple of photographers on the bridge so we figured they were there to get some pictures of the many grizzlies that feed on the plentiful salmon in the river. As we came on the bridge we could see the bear feeding below along the bank. This is a common sight for us as my family has been catch and release steelhead fishing here for over 45 years,” wrote Dupras in a message to Lakes District News.

Dupras’ group then moved to the middle of the bridge to keep an eye on the bear and give themselves safe distance as the bears occasionally come up the bank and cross the road into the woods to access the river further up rather than passing under the bridge where the shoreline narrows.

“As expected the bear came up the bank but what happened next was atypical from the behavior we’ve seen in the past. The grizzly started towards the bridge to cross over, normally the bears avoid crossing the bridge due to the heavy logging traffic,” he said.

Dupras’ wife, Lonnie Dupras later uploaded a video of the incident in which the bear is seen walking casually past onlookers. According to Dupras, usually anglers in the area warn each other of any potentially dangerous movements of bears and even discourage bears from accessing the bridge.

“The photographers did not deter the bear and allowed the grizzly to pass them on the bridge for better pictures which left us in a situation where we did not want to be,” said Dupras, adding that the safest option for them was to group together, be as still and quiet as possible and allow the bear to pass.

“If we had moved off the bridge the bear could have viewed us as prey running away or as an aggressor trying to get to the food source.”

In the video, the bear is then seen charging towards the group.

“When the grizzly lunged at us, it was testing us to see if we would run or attack and because we did neither it continued on it’s way. Yes, we were all a bit scared; who wouldn’t be when a 800 pound grizzly lunges at you! It was an amazing experience and we were lucky it didn’t turn out in tragedy, but I would be happy not to be in that situation again,” he said.

Dupras, who is a capital project manager, lives with his wife and son in Prince George and the rest of his family lives in Smithers. However, the Babine River area has been the family’s fishing spot.

“The grizzlies have been a part of our annual fishing trip and this is the first time in 45 plus years that our family has had an encounter like this. We have huge respect for the grizzlies and their habitat and do not wish to see the bears or the fishing be affected because of this one incident,” he said adding that the photographers allowed the bear to cross the bridge again next day while his family was down by the river.

“In fact one of them gave my 13 year old nephew grief for yelling down to us that a bear was traveling down the river bank towards us. He said he didn’t want him to scare the bear back into the woods. Which means if my nephew hadn’t been there, the guy would have let the bear come right down on us,” said Dupras.

Dupras hopes that such poor etiquette around bears of a handful few wouldn’t put a stop to fishing trips to the location and the tradition for fishing there would continue in his family.

“My advice is to be respectful of the signage and warnings, don’t turn your back or run if you don’t have to and don’t put yourself or others in an unsafe situation for the sake of a picture. Just give the bears their space and enjoy from afar,” concluded Dupras.


Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist
@PriyankaKetkar

priyanka.ketkar@ldnews.net


Like us on Facebook and follows us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where one employee is still currently isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was first declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
54 positive COVID-19 cases associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

There’s been a two-person increase in positive cases since Tuesday (Dec. 1)

K-J Millar/The Northern View
8 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Northern Health Authority

Since Nov. 27, there have been 191 new cases reported in NHA

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 exposure at The Key, weather shelter announced in Fort St. James

Northern Health made the public service announcement Dec. 1

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Information about the number of COVID-19 cases in Abbotsford and other municipalities poses a danger to the public, the Provincial Health Services Authority says. (Photo: Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
More city-level COVID-19 data would jeopardize public health, B.C. provincial health agency says

Agency refuses to release weekly COVID-19 case counts, citing privacy and public health concerns

Most Read