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Black Bear Kills Unarmed Woman in Unprovoked Attack; Bear Spray Fails, Gun Works

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On 21 August, 2020 at McKie Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada, a 44 year old mother of two was attacked and killed by a large black bear as she talked on a satellite phone with her father. 

The father said he was talking to her when he heard a gurgling noise, and was no longer able to communicate with here. Nine minutes later, his son-in-law, Stephanie’s husband, Curtis Blais, called him and told him of the attack. Curtis had tried bear spray, but it did not work, so he got a gun and shot and killed the bear. From

After waiting two minutes, Esquirol disconnected and called back. No one answered. Seven minutes later, he got a call from his daughter’s husband, Curtis Blais, who had been in the cabin’s kitchen about 30 metres away.

“Curtis called advising me that a bear attacked her, that he sprayed the bear with pepper spray, and the bear got more angry.”

Esquirol said his son-in-law told him he got a gun and shot the bear twice before it went down.  

“So by that time, Stephanie had no pulse. He gave her mouth to mouth, but she was injured beyond the point of recovery.”

Given Canadian gun control laws, one has to wonder how long it took him to retrieve the firearm and load it. Under Canadian law, every gun must be locked up and unloaded, unless actually in use. The ammunition must be locked up in a separate container. There are exceptions for use during predator control and storage of  a non-restricted firearm in a remote wilderness area. Even with those exceptions, the firearm must be kept unloaded.

Storage of Non-Restricted Firearms
  • 5 (1) An individual may store a non-restricted firearm only if

    • (a) it is unloaded;

    • (b) it is

      • (i) rendered inoperable by means of a secure locking device,

      • (ii) rendered inoperable by the removal of the bolt or bolt-carrier, or

      • (iii) stored in a container, receptacle or room that is kept securely locked and that is constructed so that it cannot readily be broken open or into; and

    • (c) it is not readily accessible to ammunition, unless the ammunition is stored, together with or separately from the firearm, in a container or receptacle that is kept securely locked and that is constructed so that it cannot readily be broken open or into.

  • (2) Paragraph (1)(b) does not apply to any individual who stores a non-restricted firearm temporarily if the individual reasonably requires it for the control of predators or other animals in a place where it may be discharged in accordance with all applicable Acts of Parliament and of the legislature of a province, regulations made under such Acts, and municipal by-laws.

  • (3) Paragraphs (1)(b) and (c) do not apply to an individual who stores a non-restricted firearm in a location that is in a remote wilderness area that is not subject to any visible or otherwise reasonably ascertainable use incompatible with hunting.

The bear was reported to be between 250 and 300 pounds. 

The bear was not starving. Its stomach was full of blueberries. From

He said a conservation officer told him the bear was unprovoked in the attack and that the bear wasn’t hungry. It had a stomach full of blueberries.

Given that Stephanie was attacked without warning, it is impossible to know if she could have been saved if the firearm had been available and used first instead of the bear spray. 

We do not know how much time was consumed with complying with the Canadian government laws on firearms and ammunition storage. 

We do not know how much time was wasted attempting to use the bear spray. 

We know, with severe trauma, the first few minutes and seconds are extremely important. Any delay of the delivery of first aid can be fatal.

©2020 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch



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