SIERRA MADRE (CBSLA.com) — Authorities have been unable to locate the bear that attacked a 54-year-old hiker earlier this month and will halt efforts to trap or euthanize the animal.
The investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was prompted by an attack on Oct. 10.
Dan Richman, who was hiking on national forest lands near Sierra Madre, came upon a bear on the trail in front of him, standing on its hind legs. A second bear took the opportunity to attack Richman from the side, slashing his thigh and climbing on top of him with its jaws around his neck.
Richman was hospitalized, but has since been released.
Wildlife officers and animal experts examining the tracks and other evidence at the scene believe the first bear Richman saw may have been a “yearling,” about 10 to 12 months old. DNA extracted from the saliva on the victim’s clothes indicated the second bear is believed to be female and possibly the first bear’s mother.
“If it was a mother bear and her young, and the hiker came between the two through no fault of his own, it was just bad luck for them both,” CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Rick Mayfield said in a statement. “We are very thankful the individual’s injuries were not life-threatening, and fortunately, he will recover.”
CDFW officials say that even with 30,000 black bears in California, attacks on humans are extremely rare and there have been no recorded bear fatalities to date.