A jogger on a Whatcom County trail sustained multiple non-life-threatening injuries to his hands and feet after encountering a black bear Wednesday in a forested area north of Lake Whatcom.
The jogger was taken to an area hospital for medical treatment of his injuries and was released later that afternoon, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife reported in a news release Thursday, Aug. 4.
“We are extremely thankful that the victim is recovering and receiving medical care from this unfortunate encounter,” WDFW Police North South Captain Jennifer Maurstad said in the release. “He did everything right during the incident and we wish him a speedy recovery. Wild animal encounters are unpredictable but, in most cases, they wish to avoid conflict as much as we do.”
WDFW officers, using a Karelian bear dog, located an adult black bear near where Wednesday’s incident occurred and “lethally removed” the bear, the release states.
Wednesday’s encounter occurred along the Y Road Trail to Stewart Mountain, Whatcom Game Warden Dave Jones told The Bellingham Herald.
Washington state has only had one fatal black bear attack on a human, and that occurred nearly five decades ago in 1974, according to the release. Since 1970, state authorities have recorded 18 other human-black bear encounters that resulted in a documented injury, with the most recent before Wednesday’s incident in 2015.
“In general bears avoid people, but they’re naturally curious animals,” Thursday’s release states. “If a bear walks toward you, identify yourself as a human by standing up, waving your hands above your head, and talking in a low voice. Back away, avoiding direct eye contact. Don’t run from a bear.
“WDFW recommends making noise and leashing pets while hiking. Be aware of your surroundings as to not accidentally startle a bear. While recreating, WDFW recommends carrying bear spray that is readily accessible and knowing how to use it.”
The WDFW website offers more information on living with black bears at wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/ursus-americanus#living, while the WDFW blog offers advice on how to use bear spray.