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How To Protect Yourself On Idaho Trails In Rare Case Of Bear Attack

Cliff Hall
Flickr Creative Commons
File photo of a black bear. Idaho Fish and Game officials say a female black bear attacked a woman and her dogs in North Idaho because they surprised her.

After a 60-year-old woman and her dogs were attacked by a black bear in North Idaho Tuesday, wildlife officials are reminding people of how to stay safe in the outdoors.

The woman was hiking on a trail near a visitors’ center at the Idaho Panhandle National Forests when a black bear charged her, biting her head, stomach and side. The woman’s dogs were also injured. All are expected to recover.

Phil Cooper with Idaho Fish and Game says the attack was likely the result of the woman and her dogs surprising the bear and her cub.

“There are very high bear densities, primarily black bears, although there are grizzly bears," says Cooper. "It’s extremely rare to have an incident where there is a human that is physically attacked by a bear.”

Cooper says to prevent attacks like this one, people should carry bear spray at all times – and hold it in your hand as you hike. If you bring your dog, be sure to keep the pup on a leash. And if you encounter a black bear:

“You do want to punch, kick, do anything you can to fight the bear and try to get it to leave. You want to try to walk away at an angle from a black bear as well, but if a black bear does decide to come towards you – you do want to fight back.”

The Fish and Game officer says a grizzly encounter is different – and people should get as big as possible to try and scare the bear off – but if they are attacked to get into the fetal position and protect your neck and vital organs.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.

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