Black Bear Swats Alaska Tourist in ‘Extremely Rare’ Incident

by Sean Griffin

A tourist in Anchorage, Alaska sustained minor injuries on Sunday night. A black bear approached the woman and swatted at her several times. The bear made contact with her twice in what local wildlife officials deem an “extremely rare” incident. The crazy encounter occurred on the city’s urban trail system.

The victim has yet to be identified. However, they were walking near Mile 7 of the popular Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in the Point Woronzof area. The area is near the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, the incident occurred around 6:00 p.m. A woman and a bicyclist saw the bear about fifty yards away. The bear walked toward them down the trail, and the pair then retreated. Then, the bear went into the woods in a parallel direction to the trail about twenty-five yards away.

“The victim felt that the bear had stopped walking in her direction, so she stopped at this sign that was alongside the trail and then the bear popped out at the sign,” Dave Battle, Anchorage area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, told ADN.

He continued. “And the victim and the bear circled the sign for several minutes. The lady was trying to keep the sign between her and the bear.”

The bear then began swatting at the woman, striking her twice reportedly.

Eyewitnesses Say Woman Was ‘Remarkably Calm’ During Black Bear Attack

Battle described the woman as “remarkably calm” during the incident. He said: “She didn’t try to run from the bear or anything like that, she kept the sign between her and the bear and was just trying to scare it off.”

People nearby came to her rescue, making noise to eventually scare off the bear and stop its attack. However, the woman didn’t need to seek immediate medical attention, fortunately.

Battle told Anchorage Daily News that bears very rarely interact with humans on Anchorage’s sprawling urban trail system.

“We don’t know exactly what it was doing, but the fact that it came that close and was having that kind of an interaction, kept circling the sign — we don’t know whether it was predatory behavior for sure, but it’s certainly behavior we don’t want to see in a black bear,” Battle told the outlet.

Later, after the incident, a sign was posted on the trail. It reads: “An adult black bear approached a hiker and made contact, inflicting minor injuries. Incident occurred near Mile 7. Use this trail with caution, pay attention to surroundings, and carry bear spray.”

According to the ADFG, Anchorage residents share the city with many bears: up to 350 American black bears and up to 65 brown bears.