'Violent,' Hungry Bear Attacks Child in Alaska

A hungry black bear was shot dead as it attacked a child who was walking with family in an Alaskan beauty spot on Monday, state officials said.

The family was walking with dogs in the Kachemak Bay State Park when the incident occurred, Alaska State Parks (ASP) said in a statement posted to Facebook. It described the incident as a "violent encounter."

"A black bear sow emerged from the bushes behind the group and charged toward a child in a predatory manner," the statement said. "The bear was shot and killed in the encounter and the family escaped uninjured."

ASP officials said at this time of year, bears are preparing for hibernation and are gathering as much food as possible. "Rangers have reported that there isn't much food around this time of year and many bears are starving," the ASP statement said. "Due to this, bears may exhibit opportunistic predatory behavior towards pets or humans should an opportunity arise."

Bear attacks on humans are very rare—and fatal incidents even rarer, Chris Servheen, a researcher from the Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences at the University of Montana, told Newsweek.

Data collected by Alaska-based news outlet KTUU shows that there were 46 fatal bear attacks in North America between 2000 and 2017—an average of around 2.5 per year.

Servheen told Newsweek that you are much more likely to get injured or killed while driving to the start of a trail "than you are to get injured or killed by a bear in bear habitat." He said increasing numbers of humans entering bear habitat for recreational purposes combined with rising bear populations is increasing the risk of attacks in some areas of North America.

In a separate incident, a group of four men had a close encounter with a bear in British Columbia, Canada during a recent fishing trip.

The fishermen were standing on a bridge over the Babine River when a grizzly bear approached and charged towards them in an incident that was captured on video and posted to Facebook on October 5.

The boys had a close encounter with a grizz this year. That’s a little too close for comfort. (Babine River, BC)Edit: The boys were fishing on the...

"She stopped and just lunged at us, just to sort of show that she knew we were there, and she was not to be messed with," Jay Dupras, one of the group, told CTV News Vancouver.

"As the bear was coming... the five of us just grouped together and stood as still as possible watching this bear, come down towards us. We thought we would just stand there because if we went off the bridge at all, it gives the bear more room to follow us, right?" he said.

After lunging at the group, the animal appeared to lose interest in them and started walking away.

Lonnie Marshall Dupras, who posted the video, wrote on Facebook that the bear came a "little too close for comfort." She also said the encounter was the first time in more than 25 years of fishing in that spot that the group had come into such close proximity with a bear.

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Stock image: A black bear sitting on a grassy hill. A black bear charged at a child in a “violent encounter,” Alaska state officials have said. iStock