Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Springtime in Alaska - Runners beware!!!!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Springtime in Alaska - Runners beware!!!!!!

No...I'm not talking about the newly-thawed dog poop that's all over the place. OK, well maybe I'm talking about that too since it's more of a common problem.

No, I mean that our big, furry friends are waking up from a looooooong slumber and boy are they hungry...more like ravenous!

Unfortunately, any moving, meaty-like target is fair game.
Marc Johnson ran out his front door for a morning jog and nearly died minutes later. He could still see his house when the brown bear charged him.
Johnson had sighted a mama bear and two cubs earlier and they had done some damage in his yard which included the destruction of plastic containers to get at the compost inside. As is true for most bear attacks, the attackee makes mistakes...panics and/or does something they shouldn't do. That compost on the porch was the first in a chain of mistakes.
Then about 6 a.m., Johnson, thinking the bears were gone, left his home on the outskirts of town for a jog with his leashed 8-week-old dog, Sandler. About 150 yards later, as he trotted through a lightly wooded area between two hay fields, he looked ahead into another field and saw a brown bear sow with two cubs. He stopped dead in his tracks.

Didn't matter. The bears charged.

1) Lots of garbage on the porch - BIG NO NO.

2) Most brown bear charges are fake-outs. Best to drop to the ground and play dead.

3) I would never have brought the dog. He knew bears were in the neighborhood, that it's spring, that the dog was young. Dogs are just bear magnets.

4) He should have stuck to a driveway, road, etc...

5) He should have been carrying bear spray.

6) It was a hungry sow trying to feed her hungry cubs...an extremely volitile situation. If it were me, I probably wouldn't have gone out running that morning.
Johnson dropped Sandler's leash and did something that wildlife officials say no one should ever do: He ran.

"I was pretty scared and I ran and they got me," Johnson said by phone from his hospital room Wednesday evening. "I couldn't outrun them. I'm pretty happy to be alive."

The sow plowed over him, slashing and biting his head, arm and backside. The attack was over as fast as it had started, and Johnson began running home.

He had to have an operation and I'm very glad he's going to be OK.

I know this seems like a bit of "Monday morning quarterbacking" here and I really am not attacking this guy. Attacks are very rare and I'm constantly reminding people that they are about as frequent as lightning strikes.

However, I have also have regular Alaskan-encounters...like every morning when I wake up and see my husband. While many of the human areas in Alaska are also bear areas most folks are NOT educated on bear behavior or how to react. For some reason, many folks who have been born-and-raised in Alaska are the absolute WORST for safety precautions. Then there is another group that knows better but doesn't think it can happen to them.

I doubt Mr. Johnson is in that group anymore. He was lucky to live through the lesson.

However, there are situations where attacks are more likely: 1) when there is a mama bear with her cubs, 2) early spring when bears are ravenous and there is little food, 3) anytime bears are protecting a moose kill or are fishing 4) during mating season, and 5) anytime you are dealing with garbage bears. This mauling situation combined three of those.

In about a month, my daughter will start the "Kidzrunning" program which meets two mornings a week up at Hilltop Ski Area, primo bear country. She'll be carrying bear spray (which has now been proven to be the best defense against bears) and since I'll be there, I'll also be carrying my own.

Or maybe I should carry some Bud Light?


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