For the last 30 years, Bill Palas has run the same path behind his home and never had any problems.
A couple of weeks ago, that all changed.
Palas lives near Asheville, North Carolina, and his backyard butts up to the Pisgah National Forest. He described his backyard as being like a nature center to WLOS-TV.
On July 7, Palas took off on his normal path, came around a corner, and saw a bear cub sitting in the middle of the trail.
Palas told the TV station that the cub took off, so he was going to keep going when he got an unexpected surprise.
“When you see a cub like that, there’s usually a mom around,” Palas told WLOS. “So, I go and I turn around real quick, and all of a sudden, there I see the momma bear.”
That’s when he said the bear started to charge at him. Palas said he started waving his hands and just before it was only a few feet away, he said the mother bear changed course and went down a hill.
Palas said he thought he avoided danger, when he realized he was standing between the mother bear and her cub.
That’s when the bear attacked.
“She stands up on her back legs,” Palas said. “She takes her claw, and she rakes it across my face and chest.”
He told the TV station that he put his arm up to try and defend himself, but it ended up in the bear’s mouth. He was knocked to the ground and Palas said he just waited for more to happen, but the bear took off.
Palas said he reacted quickly and ran as fast as he could to get away.
“I was running on adrenaline and shock,” he told WLOS. “I got 20 yards or so down the steep hill and I surveyed myself. You know, how bad am I? All I know is blood is just gushing out everywhere.”
When he got back home, Palas said his wife rushed him to a nearby hospital.
“They brought in a special facial plastic surgeon, you know, ‘cause they saw I was all tore up on the face,” Palas said. “He spent three hours sewing on me.”
Palas said, looking back at what happened to him, his message for others is to give bears their space if you come across one.
“I just feel so lucky that I’m together. I mean, seeing these three-inch razor claws, I could see them this close to my face,” he said. “Man, it’s just surreal.”
Despite a bunch of stitches, Palas said he’s thankful there was no permanent damage done.
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