This has been top of mind since it happened just 3 miles from my house on Wednesday in a place I hike all the time. A man was attacked by a black bear at 8.30am as he was jogging down a forested trail. See the press release above for more details. Photo is my own from May: fresh bear tracks on the same trail.
Some quick thoughts and tips:
This is very rare. There are around 25,000 black bears in Washington state alone. And over 7 million people. The last injury caused by a bear here was in 2015. To me it’s miraculous it doesn’t happen more often.
Bears want to avoid you. And they usually do it very well. But isolated incidents do occur…so….
Carry bear spray and know how to use it. IT WORKS. Not just on bears, but other big critters too, including weirdos in the woods. But don’t tell anybody I said that.
Sadly a bear lost its life in this situation. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife killed a bear at this location very soon after the attack. Probably a very difficult decision to make. More details are likely to unfold as bear DNA was collected from the dead bear and the site of the incident.
Learning about bears and their behavior makes for an exciting and stimulating time in the woods. Thankfully this guy did all the right things in this situation. And I am very happy he’s ok. But every bear and every encounter is slightly different, so learn about both. Here’s an organization I co-founded in 2000 to share accurate bear info: https://westernwildlife.org/black-bear-ursus-americanus/bear-safety-2/
It’s essential to make sure that bears don’t see human food as an easy meal. Human food-conditioned bears can become dangerous, but usually end up being killed. It’s up to us to learn to live with them, around parameters that keep bears alive, and humans safe. These amazing creatures deserve our respect and care.
Update in Bellingham Herald Aug 5th.