Rare Bear Attack Injures Man and Dog Near Creswell, Oregon

Rare Bear Attack Injures Man and Dog Near Creswell, Oregon

Published 05/11/2020 at 5:23 PM PDT

Rare Bear Attack Injures Man and Dog Near Creswell, Oregon

(Creswell, Oregon) – State officials consider it a rare incident and not necessarily connected to less people being out and about – and thus wildlife getting more comfortable – but it shows Oregon’s outdoors does have its dangers. (Photo above courtesy ODFW: a bear is released into the wild back in 2017).

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is reporting a 72-year old man was injured by a black bear near Creswell on Sunday as he was walking with his dog on private industrial timberland. The incident occurred about 12:20 p.m. approximately five miles west of Creswell, near Camas Swale Road. The area is a semi-rural section of Lane Count, with a mix of private timberland and rural residential sections.

ODFW said he was able to walk home – about a mile away – and then sought medical attention. He was treated at the hospital for several lacerations and punctures, while his dog was treated by a veterinarian for injuries sustained in a fight with the bear. Both were released from care later that day and are expected to make a full recovery.

According to an Oregon State Police interview with the victim, he and his dog had hiked from his property to the adjoining timber company property. While walking a forest road, they encountered a bear in the road only 20 feet away. The dog barked and ran at the bear. The bear knocked the dog down and was on the dog when the victim approached yelling and waving his arms in an attempt scare the bear from the dog. The bear turned from the dog and redirected to the victim.

The bear charged, knocking the man to the ground. The man fought back and after a short time, the bear left. The man and dog, both injured, hiked approximately one mile back to his residence before being transported to receive medical care.

The man suffered lacerations and punctures on his forearm as well as lacerations to his torso and head.

“This was a very serious incident and the victim took the right steps by first trying to scare the bear off and then fighting back when he was attacked,” said Brian Wolfer, ODFW South Willamette Watershed Manager. “We extend our well wishes to him and his family and hope for his speedy recovery.”

ODFW said the man described the bear as mature, black in color with a “cream” colored muzzle. He did not see any other bears at the scene of the attack.

Shortly after, Oregon State Police, ODFW and the USDA Wildlife Services responded to the incident. According to state protocols in a bear attack on a human, officials went in search of the bear to put it down. Crews discovered fresh bear sign fairly quickly, and after a short chase with hounds they treed a large, mature male bear that fit the description. The bear was shot and killed at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Most private timberlands in this area are closed to the public, but ODFW said it will be monitoring the area for other kinds of bear activity. The bear is being examined and tested for a variety of diseases including rabies, which is common practice after any incident when an animal has injured a person.

“There is a very good chance that the bear that was killed is the one that injured the man, but this area is also good bear habitat and home to many bears,” Wolfer said. “While we are not currently looking for another bear, the area will remain closed and trail cameras will be set up to see if there are other bears matching the description in the area.”

ODFW said human-bear incidents are still extremely rare in Oregon. Black bear populations number between 25,000-30,000 statewide but there have only been four previously reported incidents in the state since 1988, none of them fatal.

Here are some tips for staying safe while hiking in bear country:

Avoid trails with bear tracks or bear sign.
Make noise when hiking so as not to surprise a bear.
If you see a bear, leave the area.
Stay far away from cubs―mother is nearby.
Leash dogs. A loose dog may lead a bear back to you.
Don’t hike after dark.
Consider carrying bear spray in areas known to have bears.

For more information on co-existing with bears and what to do if you encounter one, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/black_bears.asp.

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