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A male black bear injured a man after encountering him and his dog in an incident that happened yesterday on private industrial timberland west of Creswell, Ore.
The incident happened at about 12:20 p.m. yesterday (May 10) about five miles west of Creswell near Camas Swale Road, which is in a semi-rural area with a mix of rural residential and private timberland properties in Lane County. The 72-year-old man was able to walk home after the incident and seek medical attention. He was treated and released from the hospital yesterday.
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. He was released from the hospital yesterday after receiving treatment for his wounds. His dog was treated by a veterinarian. Both the man and his dog are expected to fully recover.
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.
ODFW, Oregon State Police and USDA Wildlife Services responded to the incident after Lane County Sheriff notified them yesterday. Fresh bear sign was located and Wildlife Services hounds gave a short chase before treeing a large, mature male bear with a light-colored muzzle. The bear was shot and killed at approximately 5:30 p.m.
Most of the private timberlands in the area are closed to public visitors and wildlife managers will monitor for other bear activity in the area. 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.
“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.”
“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,” continued Wolfer. “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.”
Human-bear incidents are 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.