Friday, June 29, 2012

Bear Attacks - Part One


California Camper Killed In Bear Attack At Yellowstone National Park

Bear attacks are usually completely unexpected, an example of this is on July 6th, 2011, Brian Matayoshi, a 57-year-old Gardena pharmacist who lived in North Torrance, California in the Los Angeles South Bay has been identified as the victim of the fatal bear attack that took place in the 2.1 million acre Yellowstone National Park.

Brian, a Recreational Vehicle (RV) owner, was camping in the park with his wife Marylyn.

This is the first time a human has been killed by a bear within park boundaries since 1986, though one camper was killed and two injured in a horrific bear attack at the Soda Butte Campground, Montana at the north-eastern corner of Yellowstone National Park in July, 2010.

On Wednesday morning, at approximately 11:00am, Brian and his wife were hiking on the popular Wapiti Lake Trail - located off the South Rim Drive - at a point about a mile and a half from the trailhead when they spotted a bear approximately 100 yards away prompting them to immediately turn and walk away.

The bear that was 100 yards away was there in seconds as the female grizzly ran down the trail and attacked Mr. Matayoshi who received multiple bite and clawing injuries.

The bear then went after attacked Marylyn, who had fallen to the ground nearby. The bear bit her daypack, lifting her from the ground and then dropping her. She played dead, and the bear left the area. She was not injured.

The bear then left the area and Brian was pronounced dead at the scene when rangers arrived at approximately 11:30 a.m.

"It is extremely unfortunate that this couple’s trip into the Yellowstone backcountry has ended in tragedy," said Dan Wenk, Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. "Our heart goes out to the family and friends of the victim as they work to cope with their loss."

The initial National Park Service (NPS) investigation suggests that the sow grizzly acted in a purely defensive nature to protect her cubs.

"It was not predatory and so we see no reason to take action against the bear," said Kerry Gunther, bear management biologist for Yellowstone National Park, in a statement to the Associated Press.

For me, when I hear the facts of what took place with the bear being at least 100 yards away when they first saw the bear and decided to walk away from the bear - I don't see how they could have been a threat to the bear. When I read statements from the NPS that says their investigation "suggests" that the sow grizzly acted in a "purely" defensive nature to protect her cubs - I can't help but wonder if they're protecting the park from future litigation.

This particular female bear is not tagged or collared, and does not apparently have a history of aggression or human interaction. Typically, the National Park Service does not trap, relocate, or kill a bear under those circumstances. A Board of Review which will include inter-agency experts will be convened to review the incident.

The NPS has reminded Park visitors that they should stay on designated trails, hike in groups of three or more people, and be alert for bears and make noise in blind spots.

Then again, since I have been to Yellowstone many times, I know real well that the majority of visitors there do stay on the designated trails and boardwalks.

I also know for fact that staying on the designated trails and boardwalks does not prevent you from being charged by a bear or a buffalo.

NPS recommends that visitors should also carry bear pepper spray, which has been shown to be highly successful in stopping aggressive behavior in bears:

•The spray should be carried in a hip or chest holster to ensure easy access.
•You should carry more than one can of bear pepper spray so that you have additional spray time should it take more than one burst to stop a bear, or if you encounter more than one bear.

The Matayoshis were not carrying pepper spray. I never carried pepper spray there because I was told I didn't need it in the camp areas and on designated trails.

Because of my experience at Yellowstone, I don't think the Matayoshis were carrying pepper spray because they weren't expecting to be attacked by a bear - especially one from the length of a football field away.



Bear Drags Teen Camper Out Of His Tent Near Fairbanks, Alaska

On August 21st, 2011, it was reported that an 18-year-old camper had a rough encounter with a black bear near Fairbanks, Alaska.

Thomas Gilligan was awakened by the bear, which dragged him partially out of his tent in the Angel Rocks area.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner said that Gilligan sustained scratches on his back, but no serious injuries because his friends scared the bear away.

"I was sleeping, and I heard it, but I thought it was my friends messing around," Gilligan said.

He was sharing a tent with two friends. Another friend stayed in a tent alone nearby.

Gilligan said he was sleeping in jeans and a sweatshirt, but no sleeping bag, when he heard the bear outside "pushing rocks around and stuff." He figures the animal was looking for food.

The bear reached inside the tent's flap, which was unzipped at the bottom. Gilligan said the bear grabbed him.

"I didn't get a good look at it," he said.

The attack was over quickly. And after the bear took off, the campers packed up and left, reporting the encounter to a park ranger.

Gilligan, who received a tetanus shot, said that his experience won't keep him from camping again.


Juneau, Alaska, Woman Saves Dog From Bear With Well-Aimed Punch

This is not the recommended course of action, but it did work!

On September 1st, 2011, it was reported that black bears in residential neighborhoods aren't exactly unheard of in Juneau. While many people stay inside when bears are about, one local woman says she had a different instinct when she saw her dog was in trouble.

It started out as a typical evening for 22 year old Brooke Collins. She let her dogs out as usual - but this time, she said there was a black bear outside who took hold of her dachshund Fudge.

Collins said she didn't see the bear outside when she let the dogs out around 7:30 p.m. Sunday. She said Fudge just darted out and the barking could be heard almost instantly. She said that barking was "the most horrible sound in the world."

Collins said when she looked outside she saw a bear was crouching down with Fudge in its paws and was biting the back of the dog's neck.

"That bear was carrying her like a salmon," she said.

She said she feared for her pet's life and, and in an instant, she ran over and punched the bear right in the face to make it let go.

"It was all so fast. All I could think about was my dog was going to die," said Brooke. "It was a stupid thing, but I couldn't help it. I know you're not supposed to do that, but I didn't want my dog to be killed."

She said she almost instinctively went up and did the first thing she thought of. It all happened too fast to really think about but she had flashes of hearing about how some animals will back off from a punch to the nose, she said.

She said her boyfriend Regan O'Toole came out upon hearing the screaming. O'Toole said the bear already looked startled from being punched at that point. He said the animal went down the driveway and into the bushes to the mountain as he ran toward it.

Her dog suffered some claw and bite marks but they weren't deep so she said she decided not to take Fudge to the vet. She said the dog appeared to be more shocked than injured. She said she will get Fudge checked out if they appear infected.

Collins said she's very close to her dogs, which is why she reacted this way. She said after this experience, however, she'll keep a closer eye on them outside, as she fears an encounter with her other canine, a Pomeranian named Toki.

Collins lives in a neighborhood tucked up against Mount Juneau. She said black bear sightings are a regular occurrence there. She believes this same one has been around her house many times and is not afraid of people.

She said if this is that bear, it's definitely used to people and keeps coming back and may even know what days the trash will be out. She said she's even followed it to take pictures before.

O'Toole said he's seen five bears in the area this year, including a sow with two cubs. "We haven't had any attacks over the years and they're around all the time," he said.

Collins said one scary thing in hindsight was the bear's size, which she said was very large even when it was crouching. O'Toole said it was definitely a large one.

Collins said the whole experience of a physical encounter shook her up, calling the whole thing an eye-opener. She said she'll be taking a lot more caution from now on and definitely won't be approaching neighborhood bears.

"It's definitely changed my opinion because I never thought one would attack my dog," she said. "I wasn't in my right mind at the moment but I would never think of doing it again."


Bear Saves Man From Mountain Lion Attack In California

On March 29th, 2012, it was reported that when Robert Biggs finished gazing at a cute, cuddly family of black bears and turned to continue on his day-hike in northern California on Monday, he thought he was safe.

The 69-year-old man from the town of Paradise was anything but.

He'd been watching a mother bear, her yearling and a newborn from about 40 feet away, but he had no idea that he was being stalked by a ferocious mountain lion. As he turned to leave, the cat pounced on his backpack with all four paws.

"He grabbed me from behind and knocked me to the ground," Biggs said. "I was on my knees. I had my rock pick out because i was on a steep incline, and I smashed the cat in the head with it. He screamed, but he didn't let go."

His backpack and rock pick were the only things standing between him and certain death, Biggs said. He raised his weapon again for another swing at the hulking feline.

"That's when a blur on my left side grabbed the lion by its throat - turns out it was the momma bear," he said. "I heard a tremendous screeching, some growling noises."

Biggs said that the bear ripped the cat's grip from his backpack, and the two clashed for another 15 seconds. The bear won the battle, probably because it "outweighed the big cat 400 pounds to 100 pounds."

The mountain lion ran away, and the bear went back down on all fours. according to Biggs, the bear made eye contact with Biggs before regrouping with her young.

Biggs - who had been hiking the same two-mile trail in the Bean Soup Flat area for years -- left with a few scratches and bruises on his arm. Being a mountain man, he refused his wife's pleas that he go to the hospital, and instead put some peroxide on his wounds.

Biggs doesn't hesitate to say that he owes everything to that mama bear.

"I'm 100-percent sure it did want to save my life," he said. "We made eye contact. I'd seen the bears before and I know she knew who I was."


Fairbanks, Alaska, hunter recalls weekend mauling in Kodiak

On May 7th, 2012, there was a report out of Fairbanks that man and his son brought home two bears - and 50 stitches

One minute, Rodd Moretz was high-fiving his 13-year-old son, Caleb, after shooting the biggest brown bear of his life. The next minute, he was tumbling down the hillside with another giant brown bear, wondering if he was going to die and how things could have gone from so good to so bad so quickly.

The father and son from Fairbanks had lucked out and each drawn permits to hunt the world's largest brown bears on Kodiak Island.

Just five days earlier, Caleb had shot a massive trophy brown bear. On the next-to-last day of their hunt, Rodd Moretz had shot an even bigger brownie. Things couldn't have gone much better.

At least until another bear showed up. That's when everything changed. 

"I remember looking right down at the bear, she was falling downhill away from me, and I was thinking, 'I'm going to land right on top of her,' " Rodd said.

His son Caleb, meanwhile, was watching the whole thing play out from above. He too was trying to fathom what had just happened.

He and his father had been walking up a trail toward the brown bear that Rodd shot and killed near Sulua Bay on the southern end of Kodiak Island last weekend when they approached what looked to be a bear den cut into the bank.

They had noticed fresh bear tracks on the trail and figured the tracks and the den belonged to the bear that Moretz had just shot. It had disappeared over a nearby ridge. Rodd Moretz is an experienced hunter and knew he had killed the bear.

"We thought the den was his," said Rodd, a 48-year-old civil engineer at the Bureau of Land Management in Fairbanks. "I was so sure I didn't even take my rifle off my pack."

He did, however, tell Caleb to get his gun ready "just in case." They had taken only a couple more steps down the trail and were about 10 feet from the den when they heard a bear inside.

"She was woofing and grunting," Rodd said. "I said, 'Get ready Caleb, there's a bear coming out!' "

His adrenaline pumping, Caleb readied his .300-caliber Weatherby. A second later, the bear exploded from the den.

Even though they knew it was coming, the sight and speed of the bear startled both father and son which caused both of them to instinctively step back. Caleb tripped on an alder and fell backward just as his father yelled, "Shoot!"

When no shot came, Rodd turned to see his son Caleb on the ground next to him. With the bear almost on him, Rodd took a step toward his son, grabbed the rifle from his hands and turned to shoot the bear.

But it was too late for that. He didn't have time to get a shot off because the bear was just too close. Rodd then ducked his head just as the bear was about to hit him.

"She went right over me and bit me right on top of the head," said Rodd, "I think she only caught me with one tooth because I've only got one big cut from the back of my hair to the front."

He said it felt like the bear hit him "like a freight train" then flipped him in the air. Both man and bear rolled down the steep hillside. It was at that point that Rodd thought that he was going to land on top of the bear. Imagine that!

"She must have slammed on the brakes or something," he said. "I went over her and landed flat on my back."

He came to a stop in a thick patch of alders and rolled over in time to see the bear above him, heading back up the hill toward where Caleb, who now had no rifle, was standing on the hillside.

Caleb Moretz, an eighth-grader at Randy Smith Middle School, is an experienced hunter in his own right even at the age of 13. He has killed seven bears, including two brown bears.

Still, he didn't know what to think as he watched his father and the bear tumble about 50 feet down the hillside.

As the bear turned and headed back up the hill toward Caleb, he could hear his father yelling, "It's coming back up." Making a split-second decision, Caleb took a few steps to his left and jumped down the steep hillside to where his father was crouching.

It was only then that Rodd realized his scalp had been ripped open. His head and face were covered with blood, making the injury look a lot worse than it was.

"It happened so fast I didn't even know for sure I was bit in the head," Rodd said.

Seeing all the blood, Caleb immediately wanted to go back to camp and call for help, but his father convinced him otherwise. "He said, 'We're going to go get my bear, go back to camp and call some people and ask them what to do,' " Caleb said.

Doing so, however, required walking back up the hill and past the den where the bear that had just charged him had retreated. They also had to find Rodd's .378 caliber Weatherby rifle. 

They found the rifle about halfway up the slope and then side-hilled their way around the den to the ravine where the bear he had shot was lying.

With the dead bear only about 100 yards from the den, Caleb nervously stood watch as his father skinned it as quickly as possible.

"We had the guns really close," Caleb said. "I was freaking out."

What usually is about a three-hour job took Rodd Moretz only about 30 minutes. Rather than skin out the feet and head as he normally would, Rodd Moretz simply cut them off in the skin and stuffed them all in his pack. "I did a horrible job," he said.

After they climbed down the hillside, Rodd Moretz skinned out the feet and head of the bear before continuing to their camp, which was about a mile away.

Back in camp, Caleb bandaged his father's head and they used a satellite phone to call Rodd Moretz's wife, Kristy, in Fairbanks at around 11:30 p.m.

After he told Kristy what happened, she called family friend and veterinarian Scott Flamme for advice on how to treat Rodd's head wound. She also called the air service in Kodiak that had flown the Moretzes to camp and requested an early pick-up.

A plane landed at around noon on Sunday.

When they arrived in Kodiak, Rodd Moretz went to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to have the two bear hides sealed before going to the hospital to get stitched up.

On Tuesday, just three days after the attack, there was hardly any sign that Rodd had been bitten by a bear. You couldn't tell he had 50 stitches in his head. That's right, 50 stitches in his head!

Doctors didn't need to shave his head or cut his hair to stitch him up, and he had no bandage covering the wound. You had to look closely at his scalp to even see the stitches.

Rodd believes, and state wildlife biologist Larry Van Daele in Kodiak agrees, that the bear who charged him was probably defending cubs in her den.

Larry Van Daele told the Anchorage Daily News that mating season for bears on Kodiak Island is approaching and the bear that attacked the Moretz was most likely a sow. She may have confused Rodd Moretz with a hungry male brown bear that could prey on her cubs.

"The way she exploded out of the den, the way (Rodd Moretz) described it, suggests she was feeling very defensive," Van Daele said.

Rodd said he and Caleb watched the male bear on the hillside for three hours before shooting it, and it wasn't far from the den.

"I assume he was there waiting to breed her or eat her cubs when they came out," Rodd said. "She was definitely on alert. When we got too close, she came out. We just happened to be in the wrong spot."


Eagle River, Alaska, Bear Mauling Survivor Surprised To Be Alive

On May 15th, 2012, it was reported that 57 year old Howard Meyer was attacked by a brown bear. Down on all fours in the woods, it looked like it could stand 7 or 8 feet tall, he said.

It was too close for comfort as it was only about 30 yards away, the distance between bases in a baseball diamond.

Then, he said, the bear huffed and charged at him. Biologist says the bruin's actions have had the look of a defensive attack.

It was around 6 pm on Saturday afternoon, on a raw spring day in the high reaches of the Eagle River Valley. Meyer, who is an attorney, was walking around his 66-acre property on Mariah Drive, which borders the wilderness of the Chugach State Park.

He said he had gone out at around 4 pm in moccasins, jeans, a flannel shirt and a nylon jacket, not hoping for a hike in particular but looking for marks that denoted his property lines. It was a good time of year for such an expedition, Meyer said, because the leaves were not yet out, making it easier to see. He was maybe a half-mile away from his house.

Meyer said he was aware of the bears and moose that frequent the land, so he broke pieces of dead wood and hit trees with a stick to make noise.

He was traversing the side of a slope - one foot down, one foot up - when he spotted the brown bear.

Meyer said he shouted and swore and turned away to run - even though he knew that experts advise holding your ground. The sight of the giant bear coming at him simply propelled him away, he said.

But luck wasn't with him as he tripped in a tangle of roots and brush. And suddenly the weight of the huge bear was on top of him. The bear clawing at his back through his flannel shirt and nylon jacket.

Meyer said death seemed certain. "I just curled in and said, 'This is the end,' " he said.

As Meyer was accepting that his life was going to end in this particular brushy thicket on this Saturday evening in early May, the bear abruptly relented and ran off.

He believes the attack lasted only seconds. And with the bear out of sight, Meyer said he tried not to panic but he was in a sort of haze.

He lost a shoe in the attack, plus his glasses. He said he didn't know exactly where he was anymore. But he still had his cell phone.

The 911 operator tried to keep him calm.

He knew he was bleeding but decided not to survey his wounds. "I didn't want to freak out," he said.

The operator told him to stay where he was at, he said. That was not advice that Meyer was prepared to take. He really wanted to get off that hillside, so he left.

Police and paramedics met him near his house.

At the hospital he learned that he had puncture wounds in his back from the bear's claws, along with some scalp injuries. He also has scrapes from rolling around in the brush. He said he was told he didn't need a rabies shot.

The mauling - the first reported in 2012 in the Anchorage area - was a classic example of a defensive attack by a brown bear, said Alaska Department of Fish and Game area wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane.

The bear was likely startled, she said. When black bears are startled they usually run away. When brown bears are startled, they sometimes charge.

Standing your ground is the best way to respond to a charging brown bear, though some people find they just can't do it, Coltrane said. Most charges stop short or end with a single swat.

"Once that bear knocks you down and knocks you around, typically the bear walks away," she said. "Just like what happened with Mr. Meyer."

Meyer and Coltrane gave a different account of the circumstances of the mauling than a police spokesman initially did Sunday. Meyer and Coltrane said the attack happened in a brushy section of Meyer's private property rather than on a hiking trail.

Biologists have no reason to believe this bear will cause more problems, Coltrane said. "This was a surprise encounter in the woods in the wilderness in thick brush," she said.

It is a reminder that bears are now awake, she said. There have been several reports of black bears in residential areas of Anchorage in recent days. Most of those sightings are caused by unsecured garbage, chickens or other bear attractants, Coltrane said.

Two days after the attack, Meyer was fielding phone calls from business associates and his daughter in his room at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

"I'm not going to make the meeting on Wednesday," he told one person who called his cell phone. "I was mauled by a bear."

Though groggy from painkillers, Meyer had begun to ruminate on his mauling. His thoughts are unprintable. "Unprintable," he said two days later from a hospital bed. "I thought that it was the end of my life."

In the 21 years that the Harley-riding personal injury attorney has lived on Mariah Drive, Meyer said he has embraced the wild that surrounds his home.

"I'm the visitor," he said. He has encountered bears before, hunting in Prince William Sound and on Kodiak Island. He said he'll do things differently in the future, such as carrying pepper spray.

He thinks he may have crossed paths with the bear while it was feeding on something dead left over from winter.

That's possible, Coltrane said. 

The bear encounter leaves Meyer considering other things, too. He told the 911 operator that this was the end of his Alaska adventure, which began 25 years ago when he moved north from Minnesota.

"At that moment I was not real thrilled," he said.

The bear attack won't drive him out of Alaska, he said. But it does make him think about his own mortality. He's wondering why things turned out the way they did? "It could have torn me to shreds," he said. "It didn't."


Grabbed While On The "Throne" - Man Survives Outhouse Bear Attack In Canada

I could start this one as "No shit this really happened" but Gord Shurvell might not find that very funny.

The reason is that on May 23rd, 2012, 65-year-old Canadian Gord Shurvell of Winnipeg made a trip to the outhouse that he’ll never forget.

Shurvell says he was doing his business when a black bear barged in and attacked him, leaving him with scratches and a head puncture wound, before his friend shot the animal.
Shurvell recounted his tale of survival to CBC News.

He said he and his friend, 63-year-old Daniel Alexander, were on a camping and fishing trip near Dunbar Lake, about 37 miles north of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, when the attack happened early Saturday.

He told CBC he went to use the bathroom, leaving the door open so he could enjoy the morning view, when the bear barged in.

"I'm sitting on the throne, and my feet are sort of up on the 'poopstool,' we call it," he told CBC. "So I'm kicking at him to get away, but he grabbed my pants that were down around my ankles. And that was the start of it, and he just kept coming."

He said the bear got a hold of him by the right shoulder and dragged him out of the outhouse toward the bush.

“I’m screaming for my buddy to come with a gun,” he said.

Alexander was in the cabin when he heard the commotion. "I started out of the cabin and something clicked in, and I thought 'bear.' I turned around, went back into the cabin and got the gun," Alexander told CBC.

Alexander said the bear dropped his friend and turned toward him. That’s when he took aim and shot the bear in the head, killing it.

Shurvell was treated at a hospital for scratches on his head, neck and arms, as well as a puncture in the back of his head. Shitty deal all the way around.


Brown Bear Mauls Hiker Near Bird Creek, Alaska

On June 15th, 2012, it was reported that a brown bear mauled a hiker near Bird Creek. The good news is that his wounds are considered minimal due to backpack and adrenaline rush.

The brown bear sank its teeth into Ben Radakovich's back, at one point lifting him from the ground and shaking him hard as it mauled him on a trail southeast of Anchorage.

The attack took place on the Bird Creek Trail south of Anchorage early Sunday, and the man escaped by scrambling up a tree, Alaska State Troopers said.

Ben Radakovich, 30 of Eagle River, was about three miles from the trail head hiking alone when he rounded a curve and met up with a bear cub.

"(The encounter) scared the cub and the cub turned around and high-tailed it out of there," said Beth Ipsen, trooper spokeswoman.

Then the sow attacked. And yes, it was as sudden as that.

Ben was wearing a backpack, which provided some protection, and carrying ski poles, which he used to fight the bear.

Ipsen said it wasn't clear whether he had time to drop and tuck his body into a ball or whether the bear first bluff-charged. But the bear attack went on for a while, she said.

During a lull, Radakovich managed to break away and climbed a nearby tree. He told troopers a rush of adrenaline propelled him to the top, maybe 30 feet up.

From the tree, he called 911 on his cellphone at 7:42 a.m. He could hear the sow grunting in the brush at first. Then it grew quiet.

Rescuers got to his spot on the Penguin Creek Trail, off the main trail, just after 9:20 a.m.. One trooper based in Girdwood was off duty and another hadn't yet started his shift, so both had to drive in from South Anchorage, Ipsen said. They met up with park rangers and hiked in together.

The trail head is off a road at about Mile 101 of the Seward Highway.

Cellphone coverage is spotty in the area so Ben and the 911 dispatcher kept getting disconnected, but one or the other always called back, Ipsen said.

Ben stayed calm and Ipsen said he gave great directions about how to get to the Penguin Creek Trail. But he didn't feel able to hike back alone.

Medics from Girdwood Fire and Rescue hauled a wheeled stretcher behind an ATV and treated his wounds. By 10:49 a.m., Ben was in Helo-1, the trooper helicopter, which deposited him at Providence Alaska Medical Center minutes later.

He suffered a big wound on his lower back and many puncture wounds as well as scrapes and bruises to his head, neck and back, Ipsen said. A Providence spokeswoman said he was treated and released.

"The trooper acknowledged he was lucky he had that backpack on, or it could have been worse," Ipsen said.

Ben was carrying pepper spray, but everything happened too fast for him to use it, Ipsen said.

State Department of Fish and Game officials plan to close the Bird Creek Trail for a few days and the Penguin Creek Trail for perhaps a week, Ipsen said. Troopers spotted a bear on the trail but don't think it was the same one.

Wildlife officials looked for the sow but didn't find it, Ipsen said.

Days later, the 30-year-old man recalled that as the enraged bear with a young cub pounced, he had no time to fear death, just a split second to yell and step back.

"I didn't really think anything," he said after last Sunday's attack during a solo hike along the Penguin Creek Trail south of Anchorage. "I was just reacting instinctively."

It was only later that Ben contemplated all the what-ifs: What if the grizzly had bitten him a little harder on the neck or gotten an artery or his spinal cord? What if Radakovich hadn't been wearing a backpack that held the hard hiking helmet the bear dug into first?

He was left with wounds in his lower back and a lacerated neck, requiring multiple stitches to close. He feels stiff, bruised and sore.

"I'm just thankful that it didn't turn out worse," he said Thursday by telephone from his home in suburban Anchorage. "If that bear wanted to kill me, it easily could have."

Originally from Moscow, Idaho, Ben moved with his family from to Alaska, where he and his wife, Tami, work as public school psychologists in Anchorage. They love the outdoors and like to go camping and hiking with their three children.

Ben Radakovich was eyeing the Penguin Creek Trail because he wanted to hike up its peaks.

He was an hour into the hike where the trail is narrow and winding, closed in by thick foliage. Bears were uppermost in his mind, so he kept calling out "hey, bear" and "out of my way, bear" to warn any of his presence.

But the mother grizzly was just around a bend in the trail, poised to attack. Ben dropped one of his hiking poles and reached for his bear-repellent spray on his belt. The bear jumped on him, knocking the spray out of his hand and going for his backpack.

Ben said that he curled up in the fetal position. The bear lifted him with its teeth and shook him. He clearly remembers also being bitten in the neck. He doesn't know what happened for several seconds, and wonders if he passed out.

"I just remember sitting and realizing the bear was gone," he said.

He called 911 on his cellphone but hung up when he saw the bear coming back. He quickly climbed the tree and called again.

For nearly a half hour, he could hear the bear grunting below him.

Rescuers reached him after nearly two hours and he was flown by helicopter to an Anchorage hospital, where he was treated and released that evening.

Ben says he and his wife won't be making any more solo treks in certain places. But he knows that even people in groups can be vulnerable: A group of seven teenage wilderness survival students was attacked by a grizzly in Alaska's Talkeetna Mountains last year; four were badly injured, but survived.

"There are things you can do to make yourself safer, but bears are unpredictable," he said. "You can never be 100 percent certain that you'll have the time to fend off a bear."



Arizona Bear Attacks Up To Three In A Month

On Jun 25th, 2012, it was reported that a Tempe, Arizona, man was injured during a bear attack in the Tonto National Forest - and is in critical condition after the state’s third such incident in a month.

Peter Baca, age 30, was airlifted Sunday morning to a Scottsdale hospital after the bear smashed his forehead and left large lacerations and bite wounds on the man’s legs and arm, officials said.

"He had a large spot on the right side of his head that was just a mess, but he was alert and talking, which was amazing," said Carly Stoltenberg, who was camping nearby when the bear attack happened.

The attack at the Ponderosa Campground was the third bear attack within the past month, according to the Arizona Fish and Game Department, which explained that the bears are most likely drawn to garbage and the scent of food.

The first attack was May 31st, that was when a bear entered a woman's tent - also at Ponderosa Campground - and clawed her.

A bear also entered an unfinished cabin, on June 21st, near Tonto Village which is about 2.5 miles away from Ponderosa Campground. There the bear actually bit a man on his leg while he was asleep.

Neither of the attacks ended with life-threatening injuries, but Baca, the victim of Sunday’s attack, wasn’t nearly as fortunate. The man’s fiancĂ©e and a 1-year-old child were able to escape unharmed and warn other campers in the area.

"It was completely surreal. I was never scared. It just seemed like I was dreaming," camper Stoltenberg said. "It looked like it was a baby bear, he was so skinny. I think he was starving."

Stoltenberg said she heard screams and thought people were messing around at another campsite, but she quickly realized that something was wrong.

"We saw our friends’ tent start shaking and heard someone yell, 'Bear, bear.' We then saw the bear walking behind our tent and we quickly ran out and tried to scare it away," Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg said her husband and another man grabbed their guns and tried luring the bear away from the campsite. They didn’t want to fire at the bear because the area was so crowded and they feared that shooting would only anger the bear.

The men led the bear away, but it started walking toward them and they fired several shots. But they don’t think any of the shots hit the bear.

Kim Bress, who was camping with the Stoltenbergs, told ABC 15 that she woke up to the bear ripping through her tent.

"I didn’t hear him, I didn’t hear him at all, but I remember the rip definitely," Bress said. "I grabbed my son and my husband stood up yelling at the bear and it was like the bear just kind of looked at us, stood up, then others managed to chase him away."

After being chased away, the bear walked to the campground where it attacked the Tempe man, which was about 50 feet away.

Baca’s life was possibly saved by an off-duty EMT who just happened to be camping nearby. The EMT had a bag full of medical supplies and was able to wrap Baca’s wounds and give him an IV.

"There was blood everywhere and the campsite was a mess, but that man saved his [Baca's] life. I definitely don’t think he would still be alive if he wasn’t there," Stoltenberg said.

Tim Holt of the Arizona Game and Fish Department said bear attacks in Arizona are rare and usually caused by extreme environmental conditions.

"There have only been 10 bear attacks in Arizona since 1990," Holt said. "The last three attacks have come in the last month, so they are extremely rare. I believe the number of attacks is primarily based on harsh drought conditions which have forced the bears into areas with humans because their natural food sources are gone."

Although two bears were tracked and killed by rangers today, state officials are still unsure whether either of the bears was responsible for Sunday’s incident.

"We won’t know if these were the same bears until lab results come back," Holt said. "At this time, we are not willing to speculate on that."


Grizzly Bear Kills 70 Sheep In Montana

Just yesterday, June 28th, 2012, it was reported that a female grizzly bear was captured after going on a predatory killing spree - slaughtering more than 70 sheep around Montana in a two week period.

The sow slaughtered sheep throughout ranches within a 20-mile radius of Great Falls, Mont. None of the sheep appeared to have been killed by the cub travelling with her, and only two sheep appear to have actually been eaten.

"Sometimes the predatory instinct of grizzly bears just kicks in and they go to killing livestock," Carol Bannerman, public affairs specialist with the U.S.D.A.'s Wildlife Services told Fox News. She explained that it isn't clear why the bear went on the rampage.

"The problem is, once they discover how easy it is to kill sheep in particular, they seldom stop killing [them]."

The depredations occurred at three ranches within eight days. Between June 16 and June 22, some 72 sheep were killed and at least four more were injured. At one site, 50 sheep were killed in two nights.

"She wouldn't go back. Some animals will go back to the location where they have depredated and eat. That did not happen," Bannerman said.

At one point, wildlife services were able to capture the grizzly cub, place a GPS tracker on it, and released it in the hopes that it would return with its mother.

There was an initial struggle to locate the cub once it had reunited with the sow, however -- so much so, that they had to start a helicopter search.

On June 24th, the two were finally tranquilized.

"The sow wasn't in very good shape," Mike Madel, grizzly bear management specialist at Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, told Fox News.
"It was the youngest mother and the smallest cub I had ever found," he continued. "She was four and a half years old and the cub was 32 pounds. Usually at that age they weigh around 50."

When the bears were recovered, researchers saw that the sow had ear tags from 2010, when she was captured by Madel. Grizzly bears can be euthanized if they have previously been captured for depredating. Luckily, the sow had been captured for research purposes, so the team of biologists opted to relocate the two.

The four year old sow and her cub were placed 160 miles from the incident, around Frozen Lake, near British Columbia.

The tracking and relocation of the animals was a collaborative effort between the U. S. Forest Services, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and U.S.D.A. Wildlife Services.

Even though in a recent depredation incident, a male the bear was euthanized, Madel said that wildlife departments handle incidents on a case by case basis.

"We've moved towards fast recovery because we've protected the female grizzly population that grows over time," Madel remarked.

Grizzly bears are currently listed as threatened on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Threatened and Endangered Species List, but Madel says that at a growth rate of three percent, they could soon be removed from the list.

"Going through that capture event usually makes them wary of other people. She's less likely to do this again."


Story by Tom Correa

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