Bear Attack Might be More Than it Seems

Virginia is no stranger to human and bear interaction.

Just a few weeks ago a Staunton man had an encounter with a bear that sent him to the hospital. When we look back at bear attacks, they seem to be more like bear defense.

"These are most often not bear attacks at all. In every single one of the cases in which we are aware, there's been a human with a dog off the leash on public land," comments Ed Clark, Wildlife center of Virginia president.

In this case of a Virginia man being attacked, his dog was off the leash and ran towards some cubs. The owner’s reaction was to 'rescue' his dog, and momma bear took a man running at her cubs as a threat.

"The dog was described as some kind of hero, well perhaps he did in fact save the owner from more severe injuries, but it was the dog who precipitated the attack in the first place, or more technically it was the human who failed to comply with the law about keeping the dog on a leash," states Clark, who knows how smart and mostly non-violent black bears are.

Dogs must be on a leash at all times on any public land unless otherwise noted. Many dog owners know this.

"I've never come across a bear, but, and I really don’t hope to, I'd probably try to keep her from going after it, or barking at it, which might be impossible," remarks Ben Heilberg, a dog owner in the Charlottesville area.

Regardless, the best thing to do is stay away.

"If you see them don't approach them, don't speak to them, simply back away in the direction from which you've come."

This year the acorn shortage has hopefully corrected itself, keeping many bears away from humans.

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