A possible meeting between a bear and a human, reported early Friday morning in Sequoyah County’s northwest corner, is being investigated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC).
Craig Endicott, ODWC Regional Supervisor, said the encounter occurred at about 3 a.m. Friday morning west of the Tenkiller Dam.
He said two brothers, age 21 and 23, were at their residence when one cut his hand. The other ran to a neighbor’s house to call for help.
On the way back, the young man said, a black bear ran into him, hit him on the left side, and nearly knocked him down. The bear could be heard growling and stomping in the woods, the young man reported. The young man was not seriously injured, he said.
“He had a few scrapes and bruises,” Endicott said.
Endicott said hairs were taken from the young man’s clothing to be tested. But it is unusual for a black bear to attack a human, he added.
“There are maybe one or two attacks a year in all of the United States,” Endicott said, adding that may happen if a human came upon a black bear unexpectedly, taking the bear by surprise.
Endicott said the ODWC set up a baited trap in the area, but nothing has been caught.
“If it was a bear, it has moved on,” Endicott said. “This is a good time of year for bears. There is plenty to eat.”
There are bears in the area, he explained. In an ongoing study, 47 bears have been counted during the past five and a half years in the Sequoyah, Adair and Cherokee County area, and wildlife officials know there are more bears that haven’t been counted.
Endicott warned against feeding bears and about maintaining wildlife feeders close to a home. He said black bears that have been habituated, or learned that a close encounter with a human may result in a good meal, are more likely to attack. He said deer stations which offer corn to wildlife should be placed well away from the home. Even bird feeders and hummingbird sugar-water feeders attract black bears.
Endicott instructed how to respond if you come in contact with a bear. However, for most of us it might be easier said than done. “If you encounter a bear,” Endicott said, “just back away and talk quietly to the bear. Let it know you are there. Say ‘Hey bear, I’m leaving now.’
“Back away and get out of its way,” Endicott said. “Usually the bear will run away from humans.”
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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