"Never cross a mother bear with cubs" seems pretty intuitive, a fact that Alex Neumann experienced firsthand last month—and he's still dealing with both the physical and mental repercussions of the incident. The CBC reports that the 50-year-old Canadian was early for a job about 40 miles northeast of Prince George, so he decided to take a hike along the Willow River. The sound of the rushing waters, however, kept him from hearing an important sound: that of a grizzly sow and her three cubs lumbering up behind him. Suddenly, he recalls, he heard a "popping sound" as the mama bear grabbed him by the shoulder. "I held on to her head when she grabbed me," he says. "If I hadn't, I would have been ripped apart probably. She literally picked me up off my feet."
She finally shook him loose, hurling him 10 feet into a bunch of birch trees. Neumann, a lifelong outdoorsman who's accustomed to being around bears, was able to get up and slowly backtrack up the trail and to his truck, the bear following him the entire time. He escaped with just puncture wounds and a lacerated shoulder, though he says he's had to go to counseling to deal with the trauma. "I still don't know why I'm alive," he says. He adds that because the attack took place on Mother's Day, and because the bear would likely have been found and destroyed if he reported it right away, he held back on his story for a while. Narcity notes the attack on Neumann was the second such attack by a bear in British Columbia in recent months—a woman's dog was killed protecting her from one—even though fatal bear attacks are rare. (Read more bear attack stories.)