It is well-known that one should never mess with a momma bear and her cubs, but the reverse was the case in Alaska when a father protected his family from an attack by one such animal.
According to ABC News, the incident occurred Sunday at the Alaskan Kasilof River Beach when 48-year-old Toby Burke placed himself between his wife and three children and a charging bear. Armed with only the scope attached to a 6-foot-long tripod he was using while photographing wildlife moments earlier, Burke, a wildlife biologist for Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, attempted to fight off the bear.
Even after the tripod broke leaving a sharp edge for Burke to hit the bear in the face, the animal was not yet deterred.
The situation escalated.
"It was just me between my family and the bear," he told ABC News. "At that point, I made physical contact. All I could do was put my left arm up. Then its mouth clamped down on my forearm. So I remember hitting it in the face with my right arm."
"When the bear came at my husband, my 8-year-old, Damien, wanted to run," Laura Burke, who had their 7-month-old strapped to her back, said. "I remember his dad said, 'Don't run. Stick together!'"
Burke's efforts worked. The bear eventually gave up and ran away.
What about the father's condition? Burke said he is pretty bruised but was protected from further harm because he was wearing several layers of clothing.
According to the blog Redoubt Reporter, Burke said his children didn't even cry and the baby remained asleep during the whole ordeal.
"Fortunately, our guardian angels were looking out for us that day," he said.
After reporting the attack to state and wildlife troopers, it was revealed that there were other reports of a female brown bear in the area that had attacked a vehicle, telephone pole and a man walking on a beach. Troopers shot the bear when it came running out of the woods at them, ABC reported.
The Redoubt Reporter noted Burke too saying that the bear's behavior was "deranged."
"It would run out on the beach and back into the dunes. It looked like a very unhealthy bear, not just its appearance, but its behavior. I've had experience with bears with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And I even said to my wife, 'That looks like a candidate to be destroyed or shot,'" Burke said.
- Nature & Environment