How a conservation officer investigated last year’s unlikely bear attack

In February 2021, the Conservation Officer Service was questioned about a Port Moody bear attack that allegedly ended with the bear scampering away after being punched in the face.

After questioning the man who reportedly slugged the bear and failing to find corroborating evidence, conservation officers concluded the event probably didn’t happen, according to documents released through a freedom of information request.

Here’s a breakdown of the events that led conservation officers to that conclusion.

After hearing about the attack from a friend of the alleged victim, Global News reporter John Hua reached out to COS for a comment and information about recent bear activity in the area.

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Shortly after getting that tip, Conservation Officer Chris Miller reached out to the friend, who told him the Port Coquitlam man was walking along the trail eating a hot dog when a bear came up behind him and pinned him to the ground. The man slugged the marauding bruin, causing the bear to scamper away, according to the friend.

The Port Coquitlam man had apparently told his friend he was “bruised up and on painkillers” following the attack.

Miller eventually got in touch with the Port Coquitlam man who said the story was true and said he’d suffered scratches to his legs and bruises to his body.

After being told he needed to provide further details about the attack and have his injuries examined, the man was “hesitant to meet,” according to COS documents. The man also said he had too much body hair for the bruises to be visible.

Miller met the man at his home and soon found inconsistencies in his story.

The man said the only bruise he suffered was on his hands. However, his hands “did not appear to be bruised,” and his clothes didn’t seem scratched or marked, according to the report.

In order to confirm the location of the encounter, Miller brought out a map and pointed to a spot along Ioco Road. The man said that was where he was attacked. Miller then pointed to a spot near Inlet Park and the man again said that’s where the incident happened.

The exact location of the attack also shifted to the trail beside the soccer pitch to the soccer pitch beside the trail, according to Miller’s report.

“Victim also changed story from bear pinning him down to victim turning around and punching it in the face, back to bear pinning him down,” according to COS records.

Miller reached out to the City of Port Moody and was told there were no reports of a bear attack and there had been no bear sightings that winter, “let alone in the middle of a busy urban park,” according to Miller’s notes.

Miller called the friend and was subsequently told they didn’t know him “all that well.”

Due to changes in the story as well as no evidence of injuries nor bear sightings in the area, inability to corroborate the story, “it is believed the event did not occur,” Miller concluded.

Conservation officers killed 11 bears in the Tri-Cities in 2021, including 1 in Port Moody.

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