On July 8, 65-year-old Chico, California, local Leah Davis Lokan died because of a grizzly bear encounter in Ovando, Montana. This incident struck fear among the residents of the area. Why and how did this happen in a populated area is anyone’s guess?
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Gruesome Grizzly Bear Encounter Stories
It was a regular camping day’s end as Leah, and her two other companions were preparing to sleep in their tents. They had just finished their meals. Little did they know that the food they discarded will play a key role in the event that will haunt them the rest of their lives.
Around 3:30 am, the campers were awakened by a strange sound coming from Leah and her company’s tent. According to reports, it appeared that the grizzly bear attack might have been triggered by the smell of food from the camp.
Grizzly bears would only attack humans to protect their cubs, food, and territory. The bear may have been starving.
This is most likely proven by surveillance videos recovered from the area. According to the recorded footage, the bear also went on a feeding frenzy in a nearby chicken coop after the attack. Several chickens were eaten alive a few hours after Leah was pulled from her tent and killed by the bear.
According to Missoula Fish, Wildlife & Parks Regional Supervisor Randy Arnold, catching the animal would be a huge challenge. He further explained that the best chance of catching the bear would be by using culvert traps. These traps will be set in the vicinity of the chicken coop where the bear went on a killing spree.
However, the biggest obstacle is Ovando’s terrain. Heavily covered with trees and thick bushes, the terrain provides a natural hiding place for grizzly bears. Gavin Roselles, Powell County sheriff for many years, further confirmed this. Ovando practically works to the bear’s advantage, both “terrain-wise” and for “brush cover.”
Know Your Enemy
The best way to win a battle, says ancient military genius Sun Tzu is to know your enemy. Understand your opponent as much as you understand yourself.
In this case, the enemy by default is the grizzly bear. The point is to master your enemy’s movements so you will know what to do during a grizzly bear attack.
Grizzly Bear 101
The grizzly bear or Ursus arctos is a subspecies of the brown bear. Its natural habitat is forest regions of the northwestern United States and western Canada. The basic difference between a grizzly compared to a brown bear is its physical appearance.
Subsisting on a diet of fish, rodents, and insects, grizzlies are undernourished compared to their coastal counterparts, whose diets are more varied and abundant. This explains why bears found in coastal areas are larger.
Less Nutrition, More Aggression
Diet plays a key role in the behavior of animals. Temperamental differences between species of bear, for instance, are determined by their food or the lack of it. Grizzly bears thriving inland tend to be more aggressive.
The competition for resources highly influences their ferocity. Food is scarce inland compared to coastal areas where fish and other gastronomic options are more available.
As we mentioned earlier, there are three main reasons why grizzly bears attack humans. First is they have to protect their young. Motherly instincts make most creatures carry a do-or-die reaction towards anything or anyone.
The second reason is territory. Grizzly bears are territorial animals. They would do everything they can to guard and maintain their natural habitat.
In the unfortunate case of Leah of Montana, the third reason applies. The food search could trigger a grizzly bear attack. Research says that the chance of getting attacked by a grizzly bear is 1 out of 2.7 million.
But with continuing deforestation and the increasing expansion of residential areas, grizzly bear territories tend to overlap with humans’. In effect, the chance of encounters between both species increases.
What to Do When You Encounter a Grizzly
Better safe than sorry. This is great life advice that every one of us must heed. Let us say you are camping in bear country; it is best to familiarize yourself with the area first.
Or better yet, avoid camping sites that are prone to grizzly bear attacks. But if you cannot avoid going to one, here are safety tips you can put in mind:
1. Don’t Run!
The old fight or flight thing does not apply here. If you encounter a grizzly bear, for your life’s sake, never think of running away.
The instinct of a predator is to chase prey. Do not behave like prey. Stay still.
2. No Eye Contact
Most predators think of eye contact as an act of aggression. Don’t want to piss a grizzly off? Avoid directly looking at its eyes.
3. Move Slowly
If you are sure that the bear is not interested in making you his meal, slowly and quietly walk away. Move as smoothly as you can as not to attract further attention.
4. Keep Calm
Yes, you’ve heard this a thousand times, but it never gets old. In any life-threatening situation, it is best to stay calm.
When a grizzly bear attacks, never yell or scream. Try speaking in a soft and monotone voice. Let it know that you’re human by waving your arms.
5. Curl Up and Live!
If you can’t stop the bear from making contact, you have no choice but to face the heat. Curl up on your side like a ball.
You can also lie flat on your stomach. This is a stance of non-aggression, so the chance of the bear leaving you alone is high compared to running away.
Hearing grizzly bear attack stories is a horrifying prospect for campers. But for those whose sense of adventure is greater than their sense of fear, this means nothing. Live dangerously as fearless philosopher Nietzsche once said. Enjoy yet always keep safe!
Do you have your own grizzly bear attack stories to tell? Feel free to share your tale in the comment section below!
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