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How to Survive a Bear Attack

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August 22, 2013
How to Survive a Bear Attack - 3

It’s hard to miss the numerous bear attack stories that have been in the news over the last few weeks. Most experts agree that a person should play dead in a fetal position with grizzlies, and fight back when it comes to black bear attacks. But the brave young lady in Michigan who was attacked by a black bear just days ago, was spared after she played dead. She was able to run home after the attack. But an Alaskan hunter wasn’t able to get to help so quickly after a bear attack this past weekend. 

An unnamed man from Alaska had to wait 36 hours for a rescue helicopter to bring him to a hospital. And luckily, he received life sustaining care while he waited, administered by a fellow hunter with a day job is in the medical field. The attack happened late Thursday in northern Alaska, and the man was finally airlifted around 3 a.m. Saturday morning. Both the 12-year-old girl and the adult male hunter are expected to make a full recovery.

The latter story makes me consider what it would be like to survive an attack and not receive immediate medical attention. The most famous true story like that is the tale of Hugh Glass. A trapper and scout, Glass was mauled by a grizzly in August of 1823 during a fur trapping expedition. Left for dead, Glass reportedly used maggots to clear the dead flesh from his severe wounds, as he dragged himself 100 miles with a broken leg. He managed to survive on wild edible plants and the drive to settle the score with the two men who buried him alive and took all of his belongings.

How to Survive?
You’d need a whole lot of luck, for starters. You need the ability to tolerate intense pain, for another thing. A supercharged immune system is a critical factor. If first aid supplies were not available, you’d require knowledge and access to medicinal plants to stave off infection. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is an outstanding choice for a wound poultice, and it’s available throughout the country. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is another wound care wild medicine that is common in the U.S. and its native Europe. Close the wounds with the best method available and apply an herb paste at the surface.

Related Links
Medicinal Summer Plants
How to Stop Bleeding in the Field

An ounce of prevention
The best cure for a bear attack is to prevent it. Firearms and bear spray in an easy-to-reach holster are must-have items in bear country. Make sure your spray specifically says “Bear” spray. Regular pepper sprays may not be as potent. The device should be EPA registered as this guarantees a quality product. It should spray for at least 6 seconds, shoot at least 25 feet, and produce an orange cloud of mist, which is disorients bears.

To get more information on bear spray and bear behavior, you can visit www.bebearaware.org

Comments (3)

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from Josey 8/27/2013 at 04:32pm

Don't give names to the bears that visit your camp. One of those bears may not like the name Sue, and then you'll realize you have watched too many Disney and anthropomorphic movies.

Avoid sows with cubs. Did I say avoid sows with cubs? Nature is simple in this regard. The sow will kill anything that she thinks is threatening her cubs. This would have to be 1 of the top 3 reasons for fatal bear attacks. A few days before I returned from Montana, a sow attacked a train that had just killed her cubs. The instinct to finish off the threat is very solid and real.

Most visitor centers and state wildlife offices have information about bears and how to avoid conflicts. It is very wise to stop by these places before heading out on a hike or hunt and grab some info, even if you think you have it all memorized.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from oldmausers 8/22/2013 at 08:26pm

The two words that best describe Tom Smith's 2012 "research" on Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska are "scientific fraud." Out of 269 incidents Smith selected from 1883-2006, 56% of firearms users were injured or killed. But a 1999 study on Characteristics of Nonsport Mortalities to Brown and Black Bears and Human Injuries From Bears in Alaska by Miller & Tutterrow found that from 1985-96,there were over 1,000 incidents when people shot bears in defense of life or property, and less than 2% were injured. Smith's biased study excluded firearms successes, and included failures.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Hansen 8/22/2013 at 04:18pm

Hi...

Most bear 'survival' advice is nothing more than tripe...absolutely worthless...!!

Google 'Dr. Tom Smith bear biologist' and get the real lifesaving details.

He has studied bears and their habits; bear attacks and how to avoid them, etc.

Statistically, more bear attacks are thwarted by BEAR SPRAY (not mace or pepper spray) than by firearms. More people have been injured and/or killed by trying to use a firearm against a 35-MPH charging bear, than those who opted to use BEAR SPRAY.

Make sure your bear spray is EPA registered. This assures you that the spray has the right amount of spray, the right distance it will spray, and the right COLOR of the spray.

There's a lot more about avoiding bear attacks, but I'll let you find out first hand by letting your fingers do the walking, okay?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):

from Bob Hansen 8/22/2013 at 04:18pm

Hi...

Most bear 'survival' advice is nothing more than tripe...absolutely worthless...!!

Google 'Dr. Tom Smith bear biologist' and get the real lifesaving details.

He has studied bears and their habits; bear attacks and how to avoid them, etc.

Statistically, more bear attacks are thwarted by BEAR SPRAY (not mace or pepper spray) than by firearms. More people have been injured and/or killed by trying to use a firearm against a 35-MPH charging bear, than those who opted to use BEAR SPRAY.

Make sure your bear spray is EPA registered. This assures you that the spray has the right amount of spray, the right distance it will spray, and the right COLOR of the spray.

There's a lot more about avoiding bear attacks, but I'll let you find out first hand by letting your fingers do the walking, okay?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from oldmausers 8/22/2013 at 08:26pm

The two words that best describe Tom Smith's 2012 "research" on Efficacy of Firearms for Bear Deterrence in Alaska are "scientific fraud." Out of 269 incidents Smith selected from 1883-2006, 56% of firearms users were injured or killed. But a 1999 study on Characteristics of Nonsport Mortalities to Brown and Black Bears and Human Injuries From Bears in Alaska by Miller & Tutterrow found that from 1985-96,there were over 1,000 incidents when people shot bears in defense of life or property, and less than 2% were injured. Smith's biased study excluded firearms successes, and included failures.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josey 8/27/2013 at 04:32pm

Don't give names to the bears that visit your camp. One of those bears may not like the name Sue, and then you'll realize you have watched too many Disney and anthropomorphic movies.

Avoid sows with cubs. Did I say avoid sows with cubs? Nature is simple in this regard. The sow will kill anything that she thinks is threatening her cubs. This would have to be 1 of the top 3 reasons for fatal bear attacks. A few days before I returned from Montana, a sow attacked a train that had just killed her cubs. The instinct to finish off the threat is very solid and real.

Most visitor centers and state wildlife offices have information about bears and how to avoid conflicts. It is very wise to stop by these places before heading out on a hike or hunt and grab some info, even if you think you have it all memorized.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):