KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — Kodiak fisheries biologist James Jackson had to miss a day of work and he's got a new scar on his leg, but he considers himself lucky after a close call with a Kodiak brown bear along a salmon stream.
“It was an experience to have, that's for sure,” Jackson said. “It could have been a lot, lot worse.”
A bear last week chomped down on his leg as he and partner Kurt Peterson conducted a salmon survey on Shuyak Island, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.
About 6:30 p.m. Sept. 4, Jackson and Peterson were on Hidden Cove Creek near the Big Bay ranger station. As they waded upstream, they tried to warn off bears by making plenty of noise.
In the heavily forested area, it didn't work.
“We came around the corner, and all we heard was a bit of huffing,” Jackson said.
A bear charged. The men did as they were trained to do. They stood their ground, tried to make themselves as big as possible, waved their arms and yelled, “Hey bear, hey bear.”
“A lot of times the bear will just bluff charge you,” said Jackson, who has a decade of experience around Kodiak.
This bear didn't stop.
It knocked Jackson into the stream before he could loosen the safety catch on his bear-repellent spray.
By the time he got the safety off and pulled the trigger, the bear had bitten through his wader and boot into his right ankle.
The spray persuaded the bear to leave. Peterson also helped chase it away, Jackson said.
“It happened so fast, it's hard to explain,” Jackson said.
The men walked downstream back to their boat and called for an airplane. Jackson pulled off his waders to look at what he thought were two small puncture wounds. He found a six-inch gash.
The airplane flew the men to Kodiak. Jackson reached the hospital three and a half hours after the attack.
“That's pretty good timing,” he said.
Bear attacks in the Kodiak Archipelago are rare, he said. Jackson suspects they startled a sleeping bear.
“I don't think he meant to kill me,” he said.
He continues to have faith in his bear training.
“The bear spray worked fine,” Jackson said. “I don't think having a gun would have helped.”
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, www.kodiakdailymirror.com