Bears are common in rural Oregon. We've all heard the rumors of unpleasant encounters during camping trips. We've seen their claw marks left on trees. We're aware that they're out there, even if we don't always see them. But actual attacks are rare, and they're not always fatal.
Medford Bear Attack
An attack took place on the evening of Monday, September 5 around 8:40 PM, when a Medford woman walked into her backyard and a black bear rushed at her, leaving marks on her arm and leg. Her dog intervened, sustaining injuries as well, but they were able to scare the bear off.
The bear was estimated to be about 150-200 lbs. After it fled, it ran in front of a vehicle. There was a collision and it was believed to be injured, but it was able to flee into the woods. Throughout the night, Oregon State Police Troopers assisted officers with a search, asking anyone with any knowledge of the bear's whereabouts to make a report. They did receive tips, but they weren't able to find the bear until the next morning.
At approximately 9:43 AM, officers responded to a call on Pinecroft Avenue. The bear was hiding in a tree in someone's front yard. They contacted Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for assistance. Unfortunately, when they were waiting for the others to arrive, the bear started to climb out of the tree. Officers shot and killed the bear for the community's safety, identifying it as the same animal that had attacked the woman and her dog in her backyard.
Normally bears in this situation are eligible for a relocation program that allows them to be safely brought back into the wild. But when a bear poses a risk to human life, it becomes ineligible for relocation. Bears can become bolder when they are used to human beings, making it difficult to fight or scare them off. In that case, they're more likely to hurt someone.
What To Do If You Encounter a Bear
Yes, bear attacks are rare. But they are still incredibly powerful animals with a tendency to become aggressive. If you see a bear, follow these basic safety tips:
- Don't run.
- Make noise. Yell. Clap your hands.
- Make yourself appear big and scary.
- Back away slowly and never approach it.
- Make sure the bear has a way to escape.
- If you see bear cubs, steer clear and leave immediately.
The goal is to scare the bear off. Make them think that you are a threat and avoid doing anything that might make it lash out. Wild bears who haven't grown used to humans will get scared and leave. If the bear does attack, keep a can of bear spray on you. Throw anything you can. Do what it takes.