Black Bear Attacks Virginia Hunter, Tearing Softball-sized Chunk From His Leg

A Virginia hunter was attacked by a black bear, with the animal taking a softball-sized chunk out of his leg.

Ronnie Dalton, 68, from Carroll County had been out hunting on Saturday in Hillsville and was about to pack up for the day when the incident occurred, The Carroll News reported.

Dalton was in his hunting tree stand when he noticed a black bear cub nearby. After scanning the area for the mother and failing to find her, he decided it was safe to climb down.

But when he reached the floor, he spotted her and the animal rushed towards him in an aggressive manner.

"When my feet hit the ground I saw her. She looked up and saw me and when that happened she made a beeline at me as hard as she could come. I tried waving my hand like they say on a black bear, but I guess that doesn't work if they have cubs and feel threatened," Dalton told The Carroll News.

Dalton decided in the moment the the best chance of saving himself was to climb back up into the tree stand. But he was not able to escape the bear's reach.

"I thought maybe I would have a chance. When I tried to climb the tree stand, I got about three or four rungs up and she made a lunge on me and grabbed my right side. She bit me on my right calf and jerked me out of the stand," he said.

The bear took a softball-sized chunk of Dalton's leg, and left three or four large teeth marks. It also caused him to fall around 7-8 feet out of the tree, temporarily knocking hum unconscious.

"When I came to and got to my senses and looked, she was already leaving with her two cubs, thank goodness," Dalton said. "And so then I looked down and saw my britches was tore and my leg gashed open. I said to myself, 'I have to get out of here.' I grabbed my bow and took off toward the house."

Dalton thinks that being knocked out may have actually saved his life, because the bear may have no longer considered him a threat to her cubs.

"Everybody told me being knocked out saved me. Once she grabbed me it was like a car wreck it happened so quick. She was on me and jerked me off that tree stand and I didn't have time for anything. I thought it was the end and I thank the good Lord. He looked after me because when I came to she had grabbed her cubs. I guess she figured she done her damage and I wasn't a threat," Dalton said.

Dalton managed to get himself to a medical center where he was treated for his injuries. He is recovering well but may need crutches to walk for some time.

Area Game Warden Ben Boyette told The Carroll News that he didn't know of any other bear attacks that had occurred in the county, although he said the bear population on the area was on the rise.

"There are getting to be so many bears around here. A lot of people have told me since they heard this that they are going to be more cautious. I told them you need to watch out, these are not just a pretty animal to look at," Dalton said.

"You are in their territory when you are out there. I say she was just being protective. I wasn't all that close to the cub and I wasn't doing anything other than getting out of my stand. I guess to her it may have looked like I was just coming out of the tree. I am sure they are not used to humans coming out of trees. Be careful when you see a bear, especially if you see a cub. That is when you need to be cautious. The smart thing is to back out."

black bear
Stock image showing a black bear. A Virginia man and Maryland woman have both been attacked by black bears in separate incidents. iStock

Human injuries due to bears attacks are very rare, and fatal bear attacks even rarer, Frank van Manen, a research wildlife biologist from the U.S. Geological Survey's Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team told Newsweek. But one recent study found that there has been an increase in human leisure activities globally that bring people into bear country, raising the risks of such incidents.

Recently, a woman from Frederick County, Maryland, Renee Levow, was walking her dogs near her home in Myersville when she was attacked by a black bear.

"He stood up face to face with me with his claws out and I could've literally reached out and touched his nose. I saw claws, nose and eyes and they were literally right in my face," Levow told NBC4 Washington.

Initially, she tried to scare the bear off, but her attempts were unsuccessful.

"I was yelling and screaming and trying to look bigger and trying to deter everything that was going on. He had other plans," Levow said.

The bear then started to attack her, biting her leg twice before moving on to other parts of her body.

"I was literally like a rag doll. He turned me in the other direction. He bit me twice in the scalp, face and head," she said. "I rolled over and played dead. He sniffed me and kind of gruffed and growled a little bit and then I didn't hear him anymore."

"It was utterly terrifying," Renee Levow said, telling NBC4 that she thought she was going to die.

Levow said once the bear had left, she remained motionless on the ground for around 10 minutes until she was certain that the animal had left the area.

She suffered serious injuries to her right eye and a deep laceration across her scalp, as well as losing the top part of her left ear. Doctors say the attack left her with nerve damage in her face and it could be months before she has fully recovered.