Martin Wolbers and his dog, Papillon, stand with the trusty quad which allowed for their escape from a black bear. Antonia Westwick photo.

Miocene ranch hand and his dog chased and charged by black bear

Martin Wolbers says he’s lucky they got away

A Cariboo ranch hand and his dog were chased and charged by a black bear east of Williams Lake last week.

Martin Wolbers said he and his two-year-old Pyrenees Papillon were taking a break from repairing fences at Westwick Ranch in Miocene when he had a feeling something was watching him from behind.

“I was thinking about my boss Jim Westwick. We lost him five months ago and I’m having a hard time dealing with it. I was sitting on the seat of an old piece of equipment, just having a smoke. When I looked around I saw there was a big black bear looking at us.”

Read more: James Westwick

The bear stood up on its hind legs, started making some growling sounds, went down on all fours and charged.

Papillon took off and the bear chased her first.

“Pappy ran in a big loop and then the bear suddenly spun around and headed toward me. It meant business. I’m so skinny I don’t know why she would have been interested in me though.”

Wolbers does not believe in guns, and by the time the bear was 20 feet away he had fired up his Honda ATV and got out of there.

The incident happened at about 11 a.m. in the morning.

There was some sprouting alfalfa in the corner where the bear was, so Wolbers was surprised the bear was interested in him and his dog.

“I was just glad I wasn’t in the bush where it could have snuck up on me. Whether it was a female or male I don’t know.”

It was not the first time Wolbers has been chased by a bear on the ranch.

About 10 years ago he was taking a break eating his lunch when a bear showed up, that he did not think looked “too friendly.”

Again he jumped on his quad and rode until the creek, which he thought he could jump, but when his quad got stuck in the creek, he climbed up a tree.

“I waited up there for a couple of hours, smoked and watched it eat my lunch.”

Jared Connatty with the BC Conservation Officer Service said his office had not received any reports of bear conflicts this season yet.

As for Wolbers experience, Connatty said they don’t hear of that type of behaviour very often with people.

“It would be important to contact us so we can determine what those behaviours are,” he added.

Wolbers is almost 70 and has worked for Westwick Ranch for about 20 years.

He grew up on a dairy farm near Matsqui Flats.

His father was killed in an accident on the farm when Wolbers was 16.

“I found it difficult to stick around so I rode the rails for a while.

As for the name Papillon?

Wolbers said his dog is a great escape artist so he named her after the 1973 movie starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.

Read more: Problem bear season begins in Cariboo



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