Cumberland Times-News

August 24, 2013

Male bears more dangerous than are sows with cubs


Associated Press

— CADILLAC, Mich. — 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 Aug.15, CNN reports

Abby Wetherell was out on her nightly jog when she was ambushed by a black bear outside her home in Cadillac. She tried to run at first, but, “It just took me down,” she told CNN's Piers Morgan Live.

“It clawed me and it was growling,” she said. “It was scary.”

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.

Wetherell says she finally got the bear to go away by playing dead.

“I just thought I was going to die,” she said. “It was very terrifying.”

After the bear left, Wetherell 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.

Her father, Chris Wetherell, heard her screams and ran out of the house with a gun, but the animal was gone by then, he 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.

Wildlife officials are running tests on a bear they killed to see if it’s the same one that mauled Abby, Golder said. The bear was killed two miles from the Wetherell home.

“The common belief that surprising a mother bear with cubs is the most dangerous kind of black bear encounter is inaccurate,” the University of Calgary said.

“Instead, lone male black bears hunting people as a potential source of food are a greater cause of deadly maulings and related predatory attempts.

“The study also found that fatal attacks do not typically involve bears that are familiar with humans, although some fatal attacks did.”