Enjoying a satisfying evening of working on his garden at his home outside of Atlin, British Columbia, Rick Cowan was about to retire for the evening with his girlfriend when some unannounced visitors suddenly arrived.
Spotted by his girlfriend from inside the home was a grizzly bear duo heading right for the house.
“[My girlfriend] looked out the window and up the driveway, and there’s these two silver-backed grizzlies coming down the driveway,” Cowan told CBC News.
What happened next was albeit uncharacteristic of grizzly bears, but frightening none the less. Cowan went on to describe the situation as a siege, as he attempted to frighten the bear in a number of different ways before they were eventually dispatched.
“As soon as I started yelling at the dog to come in the house, the bears took a look at me and did a full-on charge right at the house and at me, both side by side. Scared the crap out of me,” he said.
“I got the door shut about five feet from them actually getting into the house, behind me.”
Closeby, Cowan’s daughter was in another cabin, her dog cowering outside of the cabin as Cowan yelled to her to let the dog inside. In an almost immediate move, the bears took off toward her cabin at the first sight of movement.
Storing is rifles at his father’s home nearby, Cowan did not have any access to firearms for protection, brandishing a large kitchen knife in the event the bears breached his home. While inside, Cowan called his father in a panic and asked him to come over as soon as possible with a rifle.
As his father pulled into the driveway, he immediately attempted to scare the bears using non-lethal methods such as beeping the horn and firing shots in close proximity to the animals.
“He didn’t really want to shoot them. He’s one of these guys that really loves bears and grizzlies and whatnot, and respects the wildlife. So he just sat there with his rifle, yelling at them, honking the horn,” Cowan said.
“They started coming at him. And they were not stopping. So he ended up firing a shot right at the one bear and shot it right in the chest, killing it pretty much instantly.”
In a collective sigh of relief, the second bear sniffed the carcass of his companion before leaving the scene and heading back into the wooded area. As conservation officers arrived on the scene and recanted the details with Cowan and his family, it was determined that Cowan had acted “for protection of life and property.”
“There was no obvious signs of attractants or issues that would have drawn bears to this location,” B.C. conservation officer Jeff Piwek said.
“The bears were exhibiting some behaviors that show they were habituated, not fearful of people, and potentially aggressive.”
As the officers headed out in an attempt to locate the second bear, Cowan headed to his father’s home to collect his rifles so as to have them on hand in the future. When he arrived back at his home 20 minutes later, he was greeted with the all-too-familiar screams he had heard earlier in the day.
“My kids all of a sudden started screaming at me that this other bear had come back,” he recalled. “And it walked right up beside the house again.”
Cowan was prepared this time, grabbing one of his rifles and heading out the door.
“As soon as it saw me, it started taking an interest again and coming towards [me], so I fired a shot and hit it square right in the chest.”
The bear died steps from where it was shot.
Cowan is certainly regretful that the animals had to be handled in the lethal manner that they were, but did have them donated to the nearby Taku River Tlingit First Nation.
“Hopefully they’ll be honored by the people that utilize them,” he said.