Skip to content

Bear frightened couple into Capilano Canyon, North Van rescuers say

Couple cold and wet but grateful for rescue after scrambling away from bear, firefighters say

District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services members pulled a couple and their mini goldendoodle to safety after a bear frightened them into a precarious spot in Capilano Canyon Saturday.

The couple had gone for a walk on the trails near the Capilano River Hatchery when they were alarmed by a run-in with a bear, according to assistant chief Jeremy Duncan.

“They were a little spooked and they wanted to give it some time so they left that area,” he said. “When then went to continue on, they encountered the bear again and I guess this time, it stood up on its hind legs. That obviously startled them quite a bit.”

Duncan said the couple scrambled downhill, having a short fall in the process, before finding themselves at the river’s edge.

They tried to find another path out, even crossing the river through knee-deep water, but eventually wound up stuck and calling for help around 5:15 p.m.

That was going to require the use of the district’s rope rescue and swift water rescue teams, which Duncan deployed from the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

Rescue crews spotted the couple and their dog about 400 metres north of the bridge. They had to rappel 70 metres down to the water with an inflatable boat to safely make their way up to the stranded couple, get them into harnesses and then haul everyone back up.

“They were cold. They were tired – slightly embarrassed – but overall, they were very appreciative,” Duncan said.

Many North Shore bears don’t hibernate through the winter and those that do are now waking up and stretching their legs, Duncan said, meaning more encounters are likely through the spring.

“Be bear aware. Wear a bell. Make lots of noise,” he said.

You should also keep your dogs on a leash, as they have a habit of escalating conflicts with bears, he added.

The couple, who are new to B.C., also made the common mistake of trying to find a path to safety by going downhill, which is almost always a bad idea on the North Shore.

“You just get yourself further and further into trouble,” Duncan said. “Luckily, they were in a populated area and we were nearby, but up in the mountains, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble.”

Thanks are owed to Capilano Suspension Bridge staff and paramedics, Duncan added.