For a second, Gilles Cyr of Grand Falls, New Brunswick thought he was a dead man when a black bear flung itself at him while walking through his woodlot and tackled him to the ground. And while he has no idea what possessed him to grab hold of the bear’s tongue, it was an act that probably saved his life.
“It was just pure instinct, I guess. His mouth was wide open right in front of my face so the last thing I remember I had his tongue in my hand and I didn’t want to let go because he was trying to fight me off. So he was hitting me with his claws, so I says, ‘If you're going to hurt me, I’m going to hurt you too.’ So he was biting his tongue at the same time,” Cyr recalled.
Although he suffered some claw cuts on his belly and a bite on his knee, Gilles was able to escape behind a tree. By that time the bear lost interest in the “game."
He said he managed to escape behind a tree but not before the bear clawed his belly and bit his knee.
The bear followed him but then appeared to lose interest and walked away, leaving the man with some superficial wounds and a great story to tell.
Officials from the Canadian province’s Natural Resources Department noted that encounters between residents and bears have been increasing thanks to a notable increase in the bruin population has grown from 12,000 to 17,000 during the past eight years (due in great part by a decrease in hunting).