Despite the fact you're more likely to be struck by lightning than be attacked by a grizzly, terrifying bear attacks do still take place. When bear attack survivors share their stories, like other animal attack survivors, the tales provide valuable information on how to behave in a similar situation. Bears are deadly creatures, and survivors often live because they remembered training in what to do and, in many cases, were just plain lucky.
It is truly harrowing to be mauled by a bear. The powerful creatures use their sharp claws and teeth to bite and scratch at their victim's body, crushing bone and ripping flesh in the process. Many people who survive emerge with terrible scars or are left with physical challenges to overcome. These bear attack survivors shared their stories of coming face-to-face with one of nature's most powerful creatures—and explained how they survived.
Allena Hansen was 56 when a black bear leaped out of the trees and attacked on her property in the mountains of California in 2008. She recalled:
I found myself down on the ground. I heard, "Chomp, chomp, chomp." I felt it go through my skull. I felt it bite through this eye. I heard kind of a squishy, crunchy pop. I went, "There goes my eye!" Then it got a hold of my face and started shaking—you know, worrying it. I could feel it tearing off. I could feel the blood, the wetness; I could see it dripping, I could hear it 'whooshing.' And I think the one thing that was most vivid to me was watching that little bugger spit my teeth out.
Hansen gave up fighting until she heard her two dogs attack the bear trying to save her. The faithful canines gave her hope and Hansen was able to distract the bear by sticking her thumbs into its eyes. She managed to make her way down a hill to her car, her dogs alive and following her. Hansen's face was badly damaged, but she was able to drive her car four miles to the local fire station in order to get help.
In 2016, Montana knife maker and trail engineer Todd Orr took a hike to scout for elk. He encountered a mother grizzly and her cubs, and she charged at Orr to protect her young. An experienced outdoorsman, he carried bear spray which he hoped would deter the attack. Unfortunately, it had little effect as she jumped on top of him, biting Orr's head and arm. Orr remembered to maneuver onto his stomach and cover his neck in order to protect his vital organs until the bear finally lost interest and walked away.
Orr got up and began the three-mile hike back to his car so he could drive himself to the hospital, but the bear returned after about 10 minutes to attack again. She tore into his arm and shoulder, then stood on top of his body. Eventually, she left again and Orr was able to hike the rest of the way to his vehicle. Almost as amazing a feat as surviving two bear attacks, Orr remained calm and collected while describing his experience on a Facebook video he recorded after the second attack.
Check out this video to see Orr describe his attack as well as the video he recorded. Be warned, there is some graphic imagery.
Lindsay Jones and Nikki Latta went to some woods near Port George, Nova Scotia, to paint on trees and were greeted by a hunting dog. When the dog suddenly ran away, they were suspicious, but continued on. A few minutes later, a large black bear emerged from the trees only a few feet away and the women yelled to scare it off.
We thought the yelling had scared it away, because we didn't see it. Still, we grabbed hands and started running. Then we saw the bear following right behind us...I've taken wilderness survival courses, and what frightened me most was that the bear wasn't scared of us. I knew we shouldn't run, but it was so close and gave us little choice. So we tried to escape as smartly as we could, playing cat and mouse and taking turns distracting it by shouting and waving our arms while the other person ran.
Eventually, the women came across a hunting shack and broke in, calling 911 from a cell phone. About an hour later, the police found the women's car and the shack. The bear was tracked down and killed because of its abnormal predatory behavior.
Avid hunter Lee Brooke was hunting for elk with a few friends in Wyoming in 2016. When he went to pick up an elk he had shot the day before, he found a bear and her cubs had already claimed it. Brooke was unable to run away before the bear attacked, grabbing him from behind, biting his face, and leaping on top of him. Half of his body was crushed and he could see his nose and mustache on the ground a few feet away. Brooke didn't have his gun with him and could only stab at the bear with a steak knife he had in his pocket, which didn't have much effect.
Eventually, the bear left and Brooke was able to call for help. A hiking couple passing by called for medical help, and an hour later, Brooke's brother in law found him. Brooke was transported to two different hospitals where doctors were able to save his life.