A 12 year old child running on a rural dirt road at 9:00 PM has all the makings of a easy meal for a nocturnal predator like the Black Bear. This attack has a happy ending (kind-of) in that the child wasn't killed but did sustain serious injury to a leg. Although the terror of this attack will linger for this young person.
What was the bear thinking is the question? We humans might think that a bear attacks because it's injured, is diseased, or is just crazy. The truth is the bear is just acting like a bear needing to find food.
Last year Reel Waters ran an Outdoor Lore blog on the Black Bear and what to do if (chances are very small this will happen) you come upon one in the woods. The blog about the Black Bear is still on the site. Here is some more insight to the bear's action.
Dusk is the beginning of a nocturnal predators search for food. An early evening kill for a bear is a ticket to an easy night in the woods. Hunters call dusk "zero hour", the time when many animals become active. Hunters also know, you can fool an animals ears and eyes, but you can't fool their nose. Adult humans smell and bears recognize that small mostly as danger. Children do not have that smell, before puberty, so the size and lack of smell doesn't set off the same warnings for a bear.
1. Animals hunting consider running an escape attempt. This triggers the chase.
2. A 12 year old weights about 80 pounds, very easy for a 300 pound bear to overpower.
3. Most of all pre-adult humans have very little smell. As a male adult of 6'2" and 205 lbs. I emit a smell of hormones and body odor that will put off an attack. Predators avoid full grown prey and hone in on the young. Especially when they are alone.
This latest attack had all the makings of an easy meal for the bear. To easy to pass up. The very capable MiDNR will search the bear out and examine the animal to see what might have caused the attack. I feel this might be a case of the wrong place at the right time. The bear / child meeting on a desolate country road was a natural reaction by the bear. The following is from our last blog on Black Bears and provides an approach on what to do if (not likely) you come across a Black Bear. Hopefully this scary event can be avoided. This action is for a Black Bear, other bears react differently so always ask for the right information based on where you are visiting. We only have Black Bears here in northern Michigan.
If you are confronted, face to face, with a bear that doesn't run...you have a problem. If it is a mother she will thrash and click her teeth that sounds like a person snapping their fingers. That is her warning to you. You should move away, increase the distance from her and the cubs. Do not, I repeat, do not take one step towards her. A mother bear can tell if you move one inch closer, which could trigger an attack. Backtrack slowly, keep your front side towards her if she is looking at you. When she retreats out of sight make noise so she knows where you are.
The old rogue Black Bear is the most dangerous. Unfortunately they are usually 4 to 5 hundred pounds. With old age they seem to lose their fear of man. If this bear sees you and wants to predate on you, he will size you up. If he makes any move towards you without some sort of warning, like the clicking of teeth or thrashing, he's coming. Get ready to fight. Wave your arm, scream, throw things at the bear, get as big as you can, make as much noise as you can. If he does give you a warning signal to defend his space, increase the distance between you and the bear, do not turn your back to the bear. Yell, bark like dog...make noise.
You can read the whole blog by paging down; be safe, be smart.
Sweet Is The Lore That Nature Brings