photo credit: M. O'Neill
Thomas Murray O’Neill was photographing grizzly bears from a distance in Banff National Park when he witnessed a man pull up in a truck and attempt to fight one of the bears.
He said he’d been sitting on the side of the highway for about a half an hour taking pictures like he’s done for over 40 years when all of a sudden he sees a red truck pull up on the other side of the road where the grizzly bear was.
Two men jump out of the truck. One of them, who was later identified as Mr. Mitsuing proceeded to take his shirt off and yell at the bear that was minding its own business. The bear didn’t budge, just looked up at him, so the man started throwing rocks towards it and yelling again.
After taunting the bear for another 10 minutes in a boxers fighting stance the bear still didn’t do anything but look at the guy. He finally got angry at the bear’s lack of response and started running at the bear. At this point, Thomas figured Mr. Mitsuing was intoxicated so Thomas calls the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The two drunken men got away before the authorities could arrive but his license plate of the red truck was noted down and reported to the police.
After running his plates through the system they found out he was staying at a hotel and the next morning RCMP officer Paul Friesen tracked him down and got an audio statement from Mr. Mitsuing. In the recording, he said he didn’t know anything about harassing the bear and was simply trying to get a picture with it.
However, Judge Gaschler realized he was trying to lie his way out of being held accountable so Mr. Mitsuing was hit with a $4000 fine for disturbance and aggravation of a young grizzly bear. Which he’s lucky he got because it could have ended even worse for him and the bear if the bear would have attacked him.
His actions put the bear at risk because the bear would have had to been put down due to attacking a human if it did attack Mr. Mitsuing. Not to mention the bear is potentially even more likely to be violent towards another human now after being aggravated like this.
So the moral of the story is if you see a grizzly bear and you want to take a look at it, do it from a distance. And certainly, don’t taunt it because if you do and you get caught you will be fined. As for now, learn how to act if you see a bear by watching the instructional video below.