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20/06/2016, 09:00

A narrow escape

A mother who went looking for morels in the Canadian wilderness says she was chased by a wolf for 12 hours - until she pitted a bear against the predator and made a lucky escape.

Joanne Barnaby went mushroom-picking with her friend Tammy Caudron near Fort Smith, in the Northwest Territories, last Friday.

The two became separated, leaving Barnaby alone in the woods with her dog, Joey, a mutt who had previously scared bears away.

But when a wolf sneaked up on them, there was nothing the dog could do.

Joanne Barnaby (pictured left after she returned from the woods) went mushroom-picking with her friend Tammy Caudron (right) near Fort Smith, in the Northwest Territories, last Friday

'I heard this growl behind me. There was a long, tall, very, very skinny wolf. A black wolf. And his legs were spread and his hair was standing, and he was growling, and baring his teeth,' Barnaby told the station.

The wolf appeared to strategically try to wear her out, luring her away from the highway and further into the woods, while attempting to separate her from Joey, she said.

Barnaby spent the next 12 hours trying to escape the predator.

'He was dogged. He was just determined. I was in trouble,' she told CBC.

Meanwhile, Caudron honked the horn of Barnaby's truck several times and became worried when her friend didn't return.

Barnaby, of Hay River, grew up in the Northwest Territories and knew the woods well enough not to get lost.

But she only had an empty beer can as the wolf kept stalking her, and eventually became dehydrated while fending off swarms of mosquitoes.

She kept rubbing her arms and legs while trying to tune out their relentless buzz as dusk fell.

Barnaby (pictured with a police officer after escaping the wolf) said she remained trapped for 12 hours before walking towards a bear cub, causing its mother to fight with the wolf

Caudron saw men driving past in a truck and enlisted their help to look for Barnaby.

They fired their guns to signal their position and Barnaby heard them but couldn't react as she faced the wolf, the Washington Post reported.

A police spokesperson told the newspaper Barnaby had indeed been reported missing in Wood Buffalo National Park, near Fort Smith. 

Barnaby said she heard the sound that would eventually save her life around 4:30am, as the sun began to rise.

It was the grunt of a mother bear. Barnaby listened intently and heard the cub's response coming from a different direction, which meant the two had been separated.

Joey (pictured), Barnaby's dog, has a history of scaring bears but could nothing against the wolf

She decided to take a chance and walked towards the cub.

After about 20 minutes, Barnaby finally heard the sound of an attack behind her, and said she could make out the wolf's yelps as it fought with the bear.

She and Joey walked for half an hour as the wolf stopped stalking them.

They found a small lake and Barnaby used her empty beer can to drink water at last.

Then, she gathered her strengths as she prepared to get out of the woods and find her way back to the highway.

'I started praying to not let the mosquitoes drive me insane. Then I just started talking to people I love, some of whom are still with us, some of whom have passed,' Barnaby told CBC.

'As I talked to them and told them how much I loved them, everything they mean to me, it energized me, and I was determined to see everybody again.'

She caught sight of the highway and even saw officers searching for her, but her path was blocked by tangled dead trees and she had to turn away.

'I didn't think I was going to make it,' she told the Washington Post. 'I started talking to both my sons, one of whom died when he was a baby, and my other son, who is a young man now. I was talking to all kinds of people that I love, and I was crying the whole time.'

It was 8am when she finally made it out of the woods and saw police looking for her.

She got food and water and declined a ride back to her home, preferring to drive by herself.

Barnaby went back to Caudron's house, who gave her a hug and yelled: 'I thought you were dead.'

The police spokesperson confirmed to the Washington Post that officers had participated in the search and that one of them was at the scene when she resurfaced.

Barnany told the newspaper the wolf's attitude had been 'pretty bizarre' but said she didn't mind people doubting her story as she went looking for morels, not fame.

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