Bears rarely attack humans unless they feel threatened or territorial. But a 12-year-old girl jogging in Michigan is among the latest victims in a spate of bear attacks that have left seven people mauled in five states since Thursday.
Abby Wetherell was out on her nightly jog when she was ambushed by a black bear Thursday outside her home in Cadillac, Michigan. She tried to run at first, but, “It just took me down,” she told CNN’s Piers Morgan Live.
Eventually, she said, she played dead, hoping it would go away. It did, but not before inflicting cuts and scrapes to her face and deep gashes on her legs that required dozens of stitches. After the bear left, Abby ran toward a neighbor’s house, screaming for help. The bear came after her once again, but neighbors were able to scare it away, she said.
Authorities also reported attacks in Alaska, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho. The Michigan incident was an anomaly, officials said. Michigan has an estimated black bear population of 8,000 to 10,000, but only about two bear-to-human incidents a year, said Ed Golder, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.
Attacks by bears have risen as human populations have grown, according to a study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management in 2011. The study also found that bears that have previously killed people are more likely to attack again, traveling in a party of two people or more is safer, and human food and garbage attracts bears.
“The reason why we’re having bear attacks now is because we have vacationers out in the areas where bears live,” said Tom Stalf, CEO of the Columbus Zoo. The bears are “out foraging and looking for food.”
Have you ever witnessed a bear attacking a human? What would you do if you were the one being pursued by a black bear?
Source: Holly Yan. Josh Levs and Dave Alsup | CNN
Image: ABC News