A grizzly bear that bit a man several times will not be killed by conservation officials. It was determined that the bear was female and had two cubs with her when a chance encounter with the man left her startled and in a defensive mode. In other words, she was merely defending her cubs from a perceived threat.
The man was treated and his injuries were not life-threatening. He sustained bites to his arm and head. Spring is a period of foraging for bears, and they often come down to lower elevations to find food. In these zones, they may encounter people, so humans should be on the watch for them. Surprising a wild bear is one of the things people do that trigger attacks- especially if the bear is female and has cubs.
A similar incident that took place in Yellowstone about two years ago ended very differently. A female grizzly with cubs was also startled accidentally by two hikers and reacted by attacking and killing one of them.
No one is to blame in these situations, but it does help to know exactly where you are hiking and if it is known bear territory.
The Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources has published a number of tips to keep in mind so that hikers can reduce their risk of being attacked.
At trail heads, look for signs posted about bear activity. Watch for any signs of bears such as scat or tracks. Watch ahead for any bears in the distance. Don’t hike alone in bear country, it is safer to be in groups. Make extra noise when hiking in bear country so they can hear you from a distance and reduce the risk of surprising them.
When camping, never leave food out. Bears have a great sense of smell and will invade campsites to get food.
Do not camp near food or cook near your camp. Do not bury garbage and do not camp near garbage.
And most of all – never feed bears. Many nuisance bears that wind up getting killed were fed by humans at some point.