Washington Trail Runner Left with Serious Injuries After Black Bear Encounter

by Emily Morgan

A Washington trail runner sustained multiple injuries to his hands and feet after encountering a black bear on Wednesday. 

The runner was transported to a hospital and was released the same day, according to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

“We are extremely thankful that the victim is recovering and receiving medical care from this unfortunate encounter,” WDFW Police North South Captain Jennifer Maurstad said in an official statement. 

“He did everything right during the incident and we wish him a speedy recovery. Wild animal encounters are unpredictable but, in most cases, they wish to avoid conflict as much as we do.”

According to the release, WDFW officers located an adult black bear near where the incident occurred and “lethally removed” the bear.

Washington state has only had one fatal black bear attack on a human. The attack occurred nearly 50 years ago in 1974, according to state officials. 

Since 1970, Washington authorities have recorded 18 black bear encounters with humans that resulted in an injury. The most recent encounter before Wednesday’s incident happened back in 2015.

“In general bears avoid people, but they’re naturally curious animals,” Thursday’s release stated. “If a bear walks toward you, identify yourself as a human by standing up, waving your hands above your head, and talking in a low voice. Back away, avoiding direct eye contact. Don’t run from a bear.”

Tips for trail runners who come across aggressive bears

In addition, it’s also imperative to be aware of your surroundings and do everything you can not to startle a bear. Also, be sure to carry bear spray and know how to use it should you come across an aggressive bear. 

However, next time you’re on the trails, it should put your mind at ease to know that black bear attacks are extremely rare. According to Stephen Herrero, author of Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, 23 people were killed by these omnivores between 1900 and 1980.

In reality, most of these animals just want to be left alone. And given fair warning of your presence, they will get out of your way without bothering you. 

As for trail runners, they often move quickly and quietly, making them more likely to surprise them. 

As a way to keep from having a not-so-nice interaction with these giants, trail runners should remember to make noise and be hyper-vigilant of their surroundings. Moreover, avoid running when bears are most active at dawn and dusk. In addition, try to run with a group of people and be on the lookout for bear scat and tracks. 

Finally, if you come across these creatures, stand up tall and wave your arms to appear larger. Then, speak to it in a firm voice so it knows you’re human. 

Most importantly, never turn your back on the animal. Slowly back away, preferably in the direction from which you came.