Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

He was enjoying view, bear came out of blue

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His sole weapon of defence from a bear attack? Toilet paper.

Gordon Shurvell is recovering at home in Winnipeg from injuries that include claw marks across his back after a black bear dragged him from an outhouse Saturday morning.

The attack happened as Shurvell was sitting in an outhouse at a campsite in the bush outside Sioux Lookout, Ont.

The animal has left Shurvell with wounds to the back of his head and neck that required stitches, as well as a wound on his right shoulder and marks on his hands.

The attack ended after his friend -- alerted by Shurvell's yelling -- shot the bear dead with a rifle as the animal was trying to drag Shurvell into the bush.

"I've been around in the bush... and I've never come this close to trouble with a bear," said Shurvell, a retired CN conductor and grandfather who said he's "sore as hell" from what happened.

"Of course, I never enticed them... I knew enough to respect them, let's put it that way."

Shurvell lived for decades in Sioux Lookout and is an avid hunter and fisher who's survived two strokes and has diabetes.

He said he was shocked when, sitting in the outhouse Saturday, the black bear started trying to bite his feet.

"I left the door open because I was enjoying the view, and I was so happy, I waited 12 months for this day," said Shurvell.

"He came around the corner, he grabbed my feet."

Shurvell tried to kick the animal off, but it didn't work. He then jabbed the bear's nose.

"A normal bear, it would have scared him away," he said, saying he was constrained because his pants were around his ankles.

"I knew, with this bear, he means business," said Shurvell.

He said the bear took his shoulder in his teeth, and then grabbed the back of Shurvell's skull with its mouth. It dragged him on the ground for about 15 metres before his alert friend shot the bear in the head.

"I knew what was going to happen, so I slowly took my face down and buried it right in the muskeg, because I'm waiting. Bang. And I felt the bear fall off me," he said. "Happy ending."

The attack happened at Dunbar Lake, which is about 60 kilometres outside Sioux Lookout.

After the attack, Shurvell was driven back to Sioux Lookout and taken to hospital where he was treated.

On Wednesday, he was still covered in bandages.

He said the bear looked "healthy," after he glanced at it after escaping.

Sgt. David Pinchin, of the Ontario Provincial Police Sioux Lookout office, said police received reports about recent bear activity but none was aggressive.

Shurvell said he's optimistic about recovering from his physical injuries.

However, he said, he's supposed to go back to the same area in June, and he hopes there is no lasting psychological damage.

The attack has made him the centre of attention and media coverage.

"If this is what celebrity life is like, I don't want it," he said.

Mary Shurvell, his wife of 46 years, said she believes bears are "overpopulated at the moment."

"This is an isolated incident, but beware, there is an overabundance of bears," she said.

Her husband agreed.

"Go back to the spring bear hunt and make some money off it," he said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 24, 2012 A6

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