Meghan M. Woodward: Shot: Manitoba woman the survivor of bear attack

by Cynthia Martin-Hitzmann Correspondent Health reporter Jamie Colby in Boreal, Manitoba with the stories of the animals that play such a critical role in the economy of rural towns like Woodlea, including Lochlomond and Bear Valley. For more stories go to

Christie Woodward lives on a farm southwest of Woodlea, Manitoba. Last December, her dog and a neighbor’s dog went for a walk. The result was a vicious attack by a bear that threw the two of them from the trail. Only Woodward survived.


Woodenworth’s department stores feature hundreds of such mosquito traps near a bear camp at the village’s landfill, along with several other places where the animals hang out. The traps are there to catch the bears before they weigh down the trucks that deliver garbage.

According to Alberta Animal Health Service, winter mortality for black bears is estimated to be about 10 percent. However, even the lower number is a big deal in Woodlea, where three-quarters of the 5,600 residents rely on the bears as their only source of food.

“It’s an anxiety for them,” said Chanda Baets, who owns a produce farm with her husband near the town. “The slightest noise or nothing’s usually enough to make them leave.”

Baets, as well as many residents of Woodlea, brings in deer calves by truck and then feeds them at home in winter.

Another resident, Campeau Estates Real Estate owner Rich Parks, said some residents expect that their deer will be attacked in a bear attack. “That’s just the way they are,” Parks said. “There are a lot of deer that have been killed in that community. There are a lot of bobcats. This is their number one neighbor, and they’re serious about it.”


But from start to finish, the attack by a husky on its four-legged reflection left an indelible imprint on Woodward.

“It’s hard to put into words,” she said of the ordeal. “But what I can say is that the events of that night and the aftermath is forever in my mind. There are so many thoughts and things that I’ll think about forever. But I am, I think, pretty strong.”

Even after all this time, Woodward still has a spring in her step, which is only stronger as she gets older. Last October, Woodward was so disoriented when she returned home that she had to find the way to a house where her daughter was staying. She got on the phone and quickly got advice on how to leave the mountain, which made for a difficult journey to and from the village of 37 in the rolling outcropping of Kenora in Canada’s Rockies.

“I was lost and getting nowhere in a vehicle, and then I got on a bus for an hour and a half and that’s the last place I ever left. That was because I couldn’t feel anything in my legs,” Woodward recalled.

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