Wildlife experts may have called the recent fatal maulings of people in Alaska “an anomaly”—but the trend could continue as humans encroach on the animals’ habitat.
The latest attack made headlines when a bear killed a contractor who was taking geological samples for a gold mine near Delta Junction. A second contractor was also injured in the incident. Authorities ultimately located and killed the black bear.
The attack was not the first of its kind. 16-year-old Patrick Cooper was also attacked when participating in a trail run south of Anchorage. Cooper phoned his brother shortly before the attack to say that a black bear was chasing him. Later, authorities recovered his body near the trail.
“It’s very unusual,” Ken Marsh, a representative from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said. The attack stands out because it appears to be predatory rather than defensive. “It’s very unusual. It’s sort of like someone being struck by lightning. It just doesn’t happen. To have two in two days is an anomaly.”
Before the recent string of attacks, there had only been six deaths linked in black bears in Alaska over the past 130 years. Black bears typically attack once every other year in Alaska, but Marsh notes conflicts are likely to rise as more people come into contact with wildlife and Alaska’s human population continues to rise.
If you do find yourself head-to-head with a black bear, experts recommend grabbing a weapon like a stick or rock (or ideally bear spray) and fighting back.
“In almost all situations, your best defense against an attacking black bear is to fight back,” the state’s website advises. “Concentrate on the bear’s face or muzzle with anything you have on hand.”
Whatever you do, just don’t run.
“Bears can run much faster than a sprinter and, like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals,” the website warns.
Source: Huffington Post