An outdoorsman was recently rescued after a bear attack left him and his German shepherd stranded in an isolated Quebec region for three months.
The survivor is 44-year-old Marco Lavoie, an experienced hiker who embarked on a planned two-month hiking trip on July 16. He was recently airlifted by helicopter from Lake Matagami, a remote area of northwestern Quebec, about 250-kilometers south of James Bay.
Police believe that the bear attack occurred sometime mid-August, around halfway through Lavoie’s camping trip. Although Lavoie was not injured, the bear ravaged his food supplies and survival gear.
According to sources, after the attack, Lavoie made the difficult decision to sacrifice and eat his dog when he became stranded without other food sources at the Nottaway River.
Despite obvious concerns and questions from dog lovers and animal rights groups, survival expert Andre Francois Bourbeau told the QMI news agency that Lavoie made the right choice. “He survived because he made good decisions,” he said. “Hunger squeezes you so much that you would accept food that’s not normally possible.”
Meanwhile, Lavoie’s failure to return on time did not alarm his loved ones; they assumed that the experienced hiker had extended his stay.
But in recent weeks they became worried and filed a missing person’s report with the Quebec provincial police on Oct. 21. Police sent out a helicopter to search for Lavoie.
The helicopter could not land in the densely forested area, so two police offers were dropped down. One carried Lavoie over his shoulders, out of the woods, where he was immediately taken to the hospital.
Lavoie suffered from hypothermia—it had already been snowing in the region for two to three weeks—and had lost much of his body weight.
Sgt. Ronald McInnis, a provincial police spokesperson, says that Lavoie was close to dying.
“We believe he might have died in a few more hours—24 to 48 hours more.”
Upon being rescued, Lavoie was in critical condition. “He wasn’t even able to drink water when we offered him some,” McInnis says. “He will be on an IV for several weeks.”
According to McInnis, Lavoie should be able to make a full recovery, and will gradually learn to drink and eat again.