'He fought the bear': Lewiston lawyer recovering in Montreal hospital

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Pine Tree Legal lawyer Matt Dyer addresses a packed Lewiston City Council chamber last month. Dyer is recuperating from a polar bear attack in a Montreal hospital, according to his wife, Jeanne Wells.

More coverage: Matt Dyer's recovery from the polar bear attack

LEWISTON — Pine Tree Legal lawyer Matt Dyer is recovering in a Montreal hospital from a Wednesday morning polar bear attack, according to his wife.

Jeanne Wells of Turner said her husband was attacked overnight Tuesday while camping with a group in the Torngat Mountains National Park on the northern tip of Newfoundland.

"I just want the community to know that he will recover," Wells said. "The Canadians did an amazing job of getting him transported. There was a doctor in the group who took care of him right from the start. He is in very stable condition. He will make a full recovery, and that is a testament to his strength."

Wells said the attack occurred while the group was sleeping.

"He fought the bear," she said. "He fought the bear, and they fired flares and the bear dropped him."

Torngat National Park is a 3,700-square-mile Canadian National Park in the Northern Labrador Mountains. These are the highest Canadian peaks east of the Rockies and, according to Parks Canada, are home to seal-hunting polar bears, caribou and remnant glaciers. The park was established in 2005.

Peter Deering, manager of resource conservation for Parks Canada in Western Newfoundland and Labrador, said Dyer was part of a group on a guided tour of the area.

"It's an incredible landscape, both in terms of mountains and seascapes but also culturally," he said. "This was a home to the Inuit for thousands of years. It's a fascinating place to visit."

It's known for polar bears, however, and Deering said the group was equipped with an electrified fence designed to repel the animals. The group was sleeping behind the electrified fence when the attack occurred, Deering said.

"When you are traveling in Torngat Mountains National Park, you are really in polar bear country," Deering said. "There are high densities of bears in the park, and you are at very high risk of encountering a bear. That said, this is the only incident we have had of this seriousness since the park was established."

Authorities are investigating and trying to determine what kind of fence was used and whether it was working properly at the time of the attack.

"Typically, a good fence, when it is set up properly, will deter any polar bears that happen to touch it," Deering said. "I'm sure you are familiar with the fences they use for horses and cattle. It's like that, with a considerably higher voltage."

Deering said Dyer's group was attacked by a single polar bear at about 1:30 a.m. on July 24. They were able to contact Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Parks Canada officials at about 6 a.m. A helicopter stationed at Saglek Fjord, about an hour's flight away, was sent to the area and took Dyer to a trauma clinic at George River, Quebec. He was later transferred to Montreal General Hospital.

Wells said she learned of the attack Wednesday afternoon and flew to Montreal. She arrived at about midnight Wednesday, she said.

Dyer is known in Maine as an expert in housing and tenant legal issues. He's the lead attorney at Pine Tree Legal's Lewiston office and represents many low-income and handicapped residents free of charge.

"What's great about Matt is that he's for the people and he helps Lewiston's most vulnerable," said Melissa Dunn, resident coordinator for the Visible Community's Neighborhood Housing League. "That means the disabled, the lower-income. It's nice to have somebody like that in their corner. He treats people for who they are, not based on their class or color or status."

Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald said Dyer has helped educate Lewiston's landlords about housing law. He wrote a guest column for the Sun Journal in May that was critical of the city and local landlords.

"I read his article and it aggravated everybody down at the city," Macdonald said. "But I talked with some people I know and they said that he's pretty smart. So I called him, and he was nice enough to come down and talk to the landlords. As a result of what he did, there will more landlord meetings. He was very good; not the enemy, but there to help us. And he did help us."


Matthew Dyer

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Randall Pond's picture


Prayers for Mr. Dyer and his wife and for a Speedy Recovery!

Steve  Dosh's picture

Pine Tree Legal attorney recovering from polar bear attack

Mainers, Flyday 13:00 hst ?
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, recently issued this bulletin:
In light of the rising frequency of human/grizzly bear conflicts, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is advising hikers, hunters, and fishermen to take extra precautions and keep alert of bears while in the field.
"We advise outdoorsmen to wear noisy little bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears that aren't expecting them. We also advise outdoorsmen to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a bear.
It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear manure:
Black bear manure is smaller and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur.
Grizzly bear manure has little bells in it and smells like pepper."
Q-HTML V3.1 by Craig Cockburn created this page on 03-Nov-2004 at 23:35:15:37
Please don't ask me about lawyers , /s Steve :D

Charlotte Morin's picture

You had me for a minute there.

Good one. Glad this dude is OK.

Tony Morin's picture

For the record...

That was me posting above. Didn't realize my wife was logged in.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Do we call you Charlotte

Do we call you Charlotte henceforth, or is Tony still good?

Steve  Dosh's picture

L O L , The guy's in a

L O L , The guy's in a hospital in Canada , Scott ! OMG hAHhaaahah ! ƒree , right ? Whada' Cheapskake !
Q ; How come sharks don't bite lawyers ?
A : Professional courtesy ?
Q: What did the lawyer name his daughter ?
A : Sue •
Q: What's the difference between lawyers and vultures ?
A: Frequent flier miles . .. er . . wingtips ? :)
Q: If you saw a lawyer drowning in Casco Bay would you
a) continue reading this fine newspaper or ,
b) finish your lunch ?
Laughing is good exercise
It's like jogging .
On the inside :D /s . Dr. Dosh , Hawai'i •

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You'll soon be hearing from

You'll soon be hearing from our attorney. 0O:-)


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