Driver’s quick action saves girls from bear

Michael Fred wanted to run the bear over. On Sunday evening he was driving home after a family dinner when he saw an animal climb out of the ditch at the bottom of Mountainview Drive. At first, he thought it might be a dog.

Michael Fred wanted to run the bear over.

On Sunday evening he was driving home after a family dinner when he saw an animal climb out of the ditch at the bottom of Mountainview Drive. At first, he thought it might be a dog.

But it wasn’t. It was a black bear.

And it was heading towards two young girls stopped at the bottom of the hill. He doesn’t even know if the girls realized the bear was close by. They seemed to be talking on the phones, Fred said in an interview Thursday evening.

But Fred could only picture one possible outcome.

“(The bear) was going up to those girls for sure, no doubt in my mind that that was what was going on,” he said.

Fred laid on the horn. He sped up, swerving his Chevy truck into the lane where the bear was, trying to take the animal’s attention off the girls and onto him.

“I went ripping up to it. It was spooked from me for sure,” said Fred.

He jumped out of the truck and yelled at the girls to climb in. They did. Fred threw the girls’ bikes into the back of his vehicle.

Both the girls were about 13-years-old, said Kris Gustafson, manager of enforcement and compliance for Environment Yukon. The girls weren’t crying or anything after they got in his truck, Fred said, but they were upset. He dropped them off in Takhini. He’d never seen the girls before. He hasn’t talked to them since.

But he’s sure spent a lot of time this week telling the story. Posts on Facebook described him as a “hero.” He’s “overwhelmed” by all the attention, he said Thursday evening, in the middle of preparing for a vacation. Everything happened in a matter of seconds, he said. He can’t even remember what exactly he was thinking when it all happened.

“Honestly, I’m done talking about it,” said Fred. “Yes, it was scary, because there was a bear, there were children and a bear involved. And I just happened to be that guy in the vehicle who was heading home.”

But before he could do that, Fred had to settle his own children’s concerns. His three-year-old son and five-year-old daughter were in the truck when the rescue happened. After he dropped off the girls, his daughter wanted to know if the bear would come get them. Her father told her not to worry: the bear was lost, and it was just going home, Fred said.

And it looks like that’s what happened. Two bear traps were set in Porter Creek after the incident, but they were removed on Wednesday. Usually, conservation officers are successful in trapping bears in the Whitehorse area, Melissa Madden, a spokesperson with Environment Yukon said Thursday afternoon. Because this bear wasn’t caught, it’s safe to say it has moved on, she said.

This summer, conservation officers have had to relocate 13 bears in the Whitehorse area. None have needed to be shot.

Environment Yukon continues to remind people to carry bear spray and be vigilant about making sure their garbage doesn’t attract the animals.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com

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