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For the week of July 12 through July 18, 2000

Bear bite surprises Oregon man

Bears hungry as summer continues

"He screamed, hollered, rolled into a ball and got up. Then the bear was gone."

-Blaine County Sheriff Sgt. Jay Davis

This camper, belonging to Broadford Run resident Robert Carter Jr., fell victim to a black bear last Thursday when the bear was apparently looking for a tasty morsel to chew on.







Express Staff Writer

A Portland, Ore. man got quite a surprise early last Wednesday morning when a black bear chomped on his right thigh while he slept under the stars at the North Fork Campground in the North Fork of the Big Wood River drainage.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials and Blaine County Sheriff personnel determined the bite was not an attack. The bear was simply sifting through camping gear, apparently looking for food, Fish and Game conservation officer Roger Olson said Monday.

Among the gear was a sleeping bag with James Atkinson, 40, in it.

Atkinson was passing through the Wood River Valley on a summer vacation when he encountered the North Fork bear, according to Blaine County Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Jay Davis. Davis took a report from Atkinson at the emergency room at Wood River Medical Center in Hailey the following day.

Atkinson was treated and released, Davis said, with two small puncture wounds on each side of his thigh. He was given a rabies shot, which, according to Olson, is standard procedure with wildlife bites.

According to Davis, Atkinson heard the bear rummaging through a cooler several minutes before it bit his leg. Atkinson then felt pressure on his leg, followed by a bite, Davis said.

"He screamed, hollered, rolled into a ball and got up. Then the bear was gone," Davis said.

Olson said such events are "very, very rare."

"It would never be a concern of mine," he said. "We didn’t consider this an aggressive act at all."

On July 6, a bear—possibly Atkinson’s biting bear—tore and bent a camper’s metal door in the same campground, Olson said. The camper belongs to Robert Carter Jr., who lives on Broadford Road.

"That kind of action prompted me to get the bear trap and put it in there," Olson said.

Olson placed the trap in the campground on July 6 but hadn’t had any success at press deadline. He said if he does trap a bear there, he will relocate it to an area at least 40 miles away.

Fish and Game’s bear traps are constructed from a large steel culvert pipe with a closing door. When a bear attempts to take the bait—in this case trout, pastries and cherries—the door closes behind it, Olson said.

Olson said the bear or bears are likely attracted to the North Fork Campground because of the smell humans inevitably leave behind. In fact, all campgrounds end up with smells that will be appealing to bears, he said.

Olson offered this advice about bears to locals and visitors:

"If you don’t think you would ever have a problem with a bear, you’re wrong."

Lock garage doors and bring pet food indoors, he said. Take trash out only on pick-up mornings, and take bird feeders in during summer months.

Although black bear attacks are very rare, a woman may have been attacked and killed by a black bear in Quebec City, Canada last weekend.

Mary Beth Miller, 24, a biathlete, was running in the woods when the bear reportedly attacked her. She was found with a bite on the back of her neck.

On Wednesday, a female bear that was presumed to be the killer was trapped and killed by military and wildlife officials.

Traces of mother’s milk on the bear’s body indicated that it may have been distraught about a missing cub, the Associated Press reported.

DNA testing is underway to confirm whether the woman was killed by the bear.


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