Consider each of the following bear attacks and what the victims did right and wrong so you’ll know what to do. After all, your odds of being mauled by a bear might technically be less than being struck by lightning, but such an odds comparison really isn’t fair. If you live in and never leave Los Angeles, then your odds of being in a bad encounter with a bear are effectively zero, but if you travel to Alaska to hunt blacktails or to western Montana to hunt elk then your odds are appreciably higher. Such is why hunters in particular need to know these things.
The Killer Bear A Dispatcher Didn’t Take Seriously
The worst kind of nightmare occurred that night. Around 11 p.m. a monster came and dragged Samuel Ives, an 11-year-old boy, screaming and fighting from a tent. The boy’s stepfather came running with a flashlight. He thought Samuel had been abducted, as the boy and his sleeping bag were gone. The black bear dragged Samuel into the bushes and killed him.
Hunters from the Utah Division of Wildlife Services, aided by hounds, treed and killed the black bear late the next morning.
Samuel’s parents think the Forest Service should be held accountable. They think the Forest Service should have closed the campground or at least informed campers about the problem bear. At press time, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball, a federal judge in Utah, was considering whether to award $2 million to the family.
The Forest Service sacked the employee who didn’t report the earlier incident. In her termination letter, she said that she’d “denied [her superiors] the opportunity to provide notice.”
What We Can Learn: A firearm within reach or bear spray could have made a difference, but not with absolute certainty. Playing dead wouldn’t have worked. Fighting back or getting away were the only options.
What Game Managers Can Learn: Game managers should have taken the bear more seriously. However, holding wildlife departments accountable for bear attacks could result in the closure of many areas, as the government would have to reduce its own liability.
A Treestand Hunter’s Worst Nightmare
The cubs all left the tree and the sow ambled away. Fortune waited two hours before leaving.
What We Can Learn: Not smelling like a cheeseburger and fries is helpful, especially with bears used to feeding on human garbage. This attack is actually a very good example as to why the NRA lobbies in states all around the country to change laws that prevent bowhunters from carrying a firearm for self-defense.
What Game Managers Can Learn: Sometimes very odd things just happen. If the bears are losing their fear of humans and feeding on human refuse, then the garbage must be stored in bear-proof containers and hunters or wildlife professionals can be used to kill the boldest bears.
The Black Bear That Doesn’t Like Food Plots
“That was messing him up, because they were coming back like an elastic, eh?” Marois told the Toronto Star.
Marois said the bear started eating into his right calf. Marois used a cigarette lighter to burn the bear’s face, but it swatted it out of his hand. As he grew weak from the 10-minute-long fight Marois prayed to God. The bear finally yanked Marois from the tree but when they landed it took off. Marois credits his guardian angel with chasing the bear away.
What We Can Learn: Marois didn’t give up in a fight with a predatory black bear. According to Stephen Herrero’s research, 18 of 20 black bear killings of people he investigated were the result of predation. The bears had decided to eat someone. The time of day could be verified in 15 of these 20 attacks and, of those 15 killings, 14 occurred during daylight. So always fight back when a black bear attacks.
What Game Managers Can Learn: A spokesman for Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources said the bear may have mistaken Marois for a deer. Marois, however, argues that the bear “didn’t mistake me for nothing … he was hungry and he came to get me.” Since Ontario closed its spring bear season because of lobbying from anti-hunting groups bear problems have been on the rise.
A Grizzly That Lost Respect For Us
According to Dave Ealey, a spokesperson for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, the bear wasn’t relocated because of aggressive behavior, but simply to discourage it from approaching people. (Note to Canadian wildlife biologists: When a mature grizzly approaches people it is exhibiting aggressive behavior.) How waking up in a national park is supposed to teach a bear anything isn’t clear. What we do know is the grizzly walked right back from Banff. And wildlife officials knew the bear was back, too. Its radio collar gave its precise location.