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What Bear Attacks Tell Us (Page 2)

With the number of bear attacks breaking records, it’s time to see what can be done to stop the trend.

A few weeks later, in early June 2005, Isabelle Dube, a professional mountain bike racer, and two friends went jogging on a hiking trail in the area where the grizzly had been approaching people. When the women jogged around a bend they saw the bear coming up the trail. They started backing up. But the grizzly kept coming. Dube panicked and climbed a tree. The other two women ran out of the area; however, before they were out of earshot, they heard Dube screaming desperate, bloodcurdling things.

About an hour later one of the women made it back with a warden who shot and killed the grizzly, but it was too late for Dube. The most appalling part of this tragedy is that Dube’s death was avoidable; after all, if grizzly hunting was allowed in the area certainly any bear brazen enough to approach people would have been shot quickly. You can almost hear a hunter gushing, “Yeah, the bear hunt was too easy. This bear just came right to me.”

What We Can Learn: Dube and her friends should have had a firearm or bear spray. They shouldn’t have split up. As the bear was clearly predatory, running away would also have been a mistake. Even if they weren’t armed, they should have backed out while bluffing that they were a foe not to be tangled with. They should only have attempted to climb a tree if they were sure they could get up one before the bear reached them.

What Game Managers Can Learn: Canadian officials should have learned how to treat aggressive bears; however, instead of learning from their mistake, Canada’s wildlife officials’ next response was a Neville Chamberlain-style appeasement. They terminated the hunting season in the areas in Alberta where grizzly hunting was allowed after the 2005 season. Alberta’s provincial Ministry of Sustainable Resource Development explained that the grizzly population might be declining, so they needed to do studies to find out—one has to wonder how Dube would feel about that hypothesis; especially when you consider that while bear hunting was legal, the Canadian government reported annually that the grizzly population was growing at a rate of “2-3 percent per year.”

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2 Responses to What Bear Attacks Tell Us (Page 2)

Kenneth L. Seipp wrote:
May 13, 2011

With the increasing number of encounters and/or problems, I'm wondering how long it is going to be before a bear attack on a human, fatal or otherwise, occurs here in Florida. There have already been problems with destruction of property which the FWC should be held accountable/responsible for. It is my observation/opinion that bears are neither an endangered and/or threatened species in Florida, and that they are not afraid of humans as evidenced by the encounters and destruction of property that have occurred...even within the city limits of Jacksonville. I am afraid that someone is going to be severely mauled and/or killed if the FWC doesn't heed the warning signs and do something (hunting seasons?) soon. ...If bear encounters are so rare in Florida, why wasn't a vehicle crash involving a sow and her two cubs in Palatka, FL, reported by the news media? ...why are there "bear signs" warning drivers to watch for bears crossing the highway...and, so on? Personally, I couldn't even begin to run away from a bear, and I'm taking precautions so that I can stand and defend my family and myself. I would rather be alive to deal with the aftermath incurred by defending myself in a life threatening situation, than be a victim! That reminds me, there was a report of a cougar in a tree near an elementary school watching the children on the playground...I wonder what would be the response if...?

William W Wennen, MD wrote:
May 12, 2011

Having taken care of over a dozen bear maulings in my career here in Alaska as a plastic surgeon there are a great number of things that I have learned that were not mentioned in this report. First, here in AK black bears are often considered "garbage bears" because that is where they are often found and are accustomed to human scent and yes they will actually eat humans. Grizzleys on the other hand for some reason do not but will tear the hell out of the human body more out of either spite, defense of food or territory or to protect young. Brown bears are no different, in fact many believe that they are genetically genetically the same. Most encounters up here occur by chance or "accident" while hunting or trekking through our dense woods or undergrowth. The grizzly will go for the head first, tearing all manner of tissue and human parts free or at least loose. The it will go back and rake its 7 inch claws across the low abdomen and the genital area, presumably believing that if the "offending" creature is still alive injuring the genital area in most all of God's creatures is sensitive to say the least and if the creature (human or animal) winces, makes a noise or moves, the bear goes either back for the head again and or pokes the claws at the chest puncturing the lungs. There is so much more to pass on to every one but I really do not want to monopolize this forum. I live in Fairbanks and if anyone has any questions my email is wennen@mosquitonet.com.