Black bear attacks bicyclist in park

Black bear attacks bicyclist in park
NEAR OLALLA, Wash. -- A man was attacked by a bear while mountain biking in the Banner Forest Heritage Park just before noon on Sunday, according to South Kitsap Fire and Rescue officials.

Spokesman Ron Powers said a 51-year-old Port Orchard man was biking with his two dogs alongside him when the dogs ran ahead and around the bend, then started barking fiercely. The man turned the bend and saw the dogs were barking at a bear.

Powers said the bear immediately charged at the man, who tried to use his bike to shield himself from the animal. But the bear managed to injure the man's arm, back, neck and ear before he was able to get back on his bike and ride away.

Down the path, the injured man ran into other mountain bikers, who called 911.

The man was conscious and alert when he was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. The unidentified man is in serious condition, but is expected to recover.

One of the man's dogs is still missing. It is not known whether the dog suffered injuries during the attack. The second dog is said to be OK.

Officials evacuated the park and shut it down in order to search for the bear. Powers said if the bear is found, officials plan to kill it. Officials said crews will search through the night until the bear is found.

Another bicyclist who was at the park on Sunday told authorities he saw mother bear and two cubs while riding on the trail.

Powers said Sunday's attack is a freak accident, stating black bears rarely attack humans and, unless provoked or threatened, will run away. The man or the dogs may have appeared as a threat to the bear, who may have been protecting her cubs, Powers said.

Area resident Teri Nelson agrees, while bears are not uncommon at the park, she didn't expect them to be aggressive.

"Attacking somebody would make me have second thoughts about walking through this forest by myself," she said. "It's pretty scary."