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Bruce Miller of Miller Time charters talks to the media after he and a group of men killed a bear that mauled a 52-year-old-man after swimming out to the fisherman's boat, which was docked at the Port Renfrew marina Sept. 9.

A bloody battle of man against beast on a Vancouver Island dock has left one fisherman in hospital, a bear dead and a group of quick-thinking bystanders hailed as heroes.

Bruce Miller couldn't believe his eyes when he saw a black bear attacking a fisherman aboard a powerboat at the Port Renfrew marina Tuesday evening. But the 40-year-old fishing guide sprang into action.

"I just reacted. I ran out of my boat, I grabbed my gaff -- my halibut gaff -- on my way there," he told reporters Wednesday, displaying the long hook attached to a pole used for landing large fish.

With one foot inside the boat and one foot out, Miller whacked the bear several times with the gaff, trying in vain to pull him off the victim.

"He wanted to eat that guy," Miller said. "That's all there was. He was after him, and nothing was going to stop that bear from getting what he wanted."

Eventually, several other bystanders rushed to help with gaffs, a hammer and a filleting knife.

"There was three or four of us, just kind of held that [bear] there, while we cut his throat," he said.

Miller has been a fishing guide in the area for six years and will be back on the water today, said his wife, Andrea Miller.

"It doesn't surprise me that he would do that," she said. "He's something else."

The victim, a 52-year-old Saltspring Island man, was recovering in hospital.

He was conscious and in stable condition when he was flown by air ambulance to Victoria General Hospital. He was later transferred to Royal Jubilee Hospital, where he underwent surgery. Neither his name nor his condition have been made public.

The dead bear was left in the boat until a conservation officer arrived to take it away.

"This is the first major aggressive black-bear attack causing that kind of injury on Vancouver Island," conservation officer Gord Hitchcock said from Nanaimo.

The victim was fishing with a friend aboard his powerboat and returned to the marina with a coho salmon, Hitchcock said.

The two men went to the office to clean the fish and were returning to the boat about 5 p.m. when a bear -- at least 10 years old and weighing 80 kilograms -- climbed up on the wharf after swimming the Gordon River.

The bear was about 50 metres away when the man boarded the boat.

"The bear immediately followed him and boarded the boat," Hitchcock said.

"The victim threw his fish in the general vicinity of the bear, but the bear attacked the victim in the boat."

The animal was undergoing a necropsy in Nanaimo to explore what might have led to the mauling. Initial examination showed it to be elderly and in poor health.

Mike Hicks of Sooke, who owns a fishing resort in Port Renfrew, said he's not surprised by the attack.

Three weeks ago, he called the conservation service about bears.

"We had a problem with bears walking down the pier, going down the ramp and sitting in boats looking for food," he said.

"Our patrons were shooing them out of the boats and taking pictures. It was absolutely bizarre ... and totally dangerous."

Hicks wanted the bears moved or killed, but said the conservation officer said nothing would be done unless someone was in imminent danger.

"They never did send an officer out and yesterday a bear, probably the same bear, took down this fellow," Hicks said. "The whole situation is absolutely disgusting."

But Hitchcock said conservation officers have been taking the problem seriously. He said bears are common in Port Renfrew and people there have to take responsibility with garbage and fish scraps.

"We work with marine authorities around prevention ... keeping the bears from coming in to access fish sources," he said.

"They have to manage their attractions or all we'll be doing is destroying bears out there."

The attack in Port Renfrew shocked some local residents, Fire Chief Dan Tennant said, because such attacks have "never, ever" happened in the area before.

"I always tell people in Port Renfrew the bears are more afraid of you than you are of them. I encounter [bears] almost daily and they're pretty docile," he said.

"I'm not sure what happened here."

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Ya seen a report on the tv news about this story... animals are unpredictable... I remember in my younger days [1978]driving with a VW bug from Prince Rupert going towards Prince George along the Yellow Head Highway but as it was late I pulled into a "REST AREA" threw my sleeping bag to the ground & crashed out... upon waking to a bright sunny day I looked over to a black bear no more than 6ft from me sitting on it's behind with can in it's paws & with it's long tongue licking away... I'm just happy this bear was not aggressive in this case... but the bears are extra hungry this year & more bold to approach humans in search for food. [lack of wild berries this year] Thanks for the access to this story Britguy ... I just hope the chap recovers ok.

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In the early ninety's my family sail up through Johnston Strait and at a place call Port Harvey we were woken by a gun shot early in the morning. It was close from some where in the bay. My dad went up to invenstigate. A comercial fisher had shot a couger that had swam up to and climb on to a 30' sail boat. The people on board were not woken until after the shot. Imagine waking up to a wet couger on your boat.

I had a similar thing happen at the dock in Silva bay. On of my guest was going crazy that rats had got on the boat. I was like there's no way. Still my buddy was almost ready to get a plane home rather than sail on rat boat. So we searched high and low for them, while the guy behind us laught. Turn out his cat had run of his boat onto ours while he was docking in the middle of the night. He let it run around abit instead of waking us up.

Have fun, Jason

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There is definitly a lack of food for the bears on the island this year, but the CO is right, we need to be more aware of what we are doing and leaving behind. If your boat, truck or whatever stinks like food then the bear is going to come sniffing. The lodge owner who seems to want to blame this whole thing on the CO's not removing or killing the bear :wallbash: is out in left field. If every bear that was seen sniffing around us was killed there would be non left. If the bear has become habituated (like those in a dump teaching their cubs to forage there as well) then they pose a risk, but if you are in a remote area and figure the bears shouldn't come near you then you would be wrong. If he wants the bears out then fence them out and don't give them a reason to come by. This particular bear sounds like he needed some food and if you were starving you would get drastic to eat too! :2cents:
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