Bear That Attacked Runner Captured

The woman was bit and scratched multiple times and sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries to her upper body, head and neck.

Bear responsible for attack on Valles Caldera marathon runner caught; euthanized

JEMEZ – New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officers tracked and killed an adult female black bear that attacked a woman Saturday afternoon while she was participating in a marathon event on the Valles Caldera National Preserve near Los Alamos.

The bear is to be transported to the state Veterinary Diagnostic Services center for necropsy. State law requires any wild animal that attacks or bites a human be euthanized and tested for rabies which is spread when an infected animal scratches or bites another animal or human. Although it is rare, rabies is nearly 100 percent fatal if not properly treated. 

“It is regrettable when a wildlife encounter results in human injuries and requires we euthanize the animal,” said Department Director Alexandra Sandoval. “We are thankful that the injuries sustained by the victim were not worse and are hopeful that she is able to recover quickly.”

The bear was located not far from where the attack occurred and matches the information given by the victim. The bear was part of a study involving wild bears and was collared with a GPS tracking device which helped Officers confirm the bear’s location at the time of the incident. Officers are confident they caught the right bear.  

The attack occurred when the victim surprised it causing at least one cub to run up a nearby tree. The woman was bit and scratched multiple times and sustained serious, but non-life threatening injuries to her upper body, head and neck. Nearby joggers provided immediate assistance until additional help could arrive. She was airlifted to an Albuquerque area hospital where she was treated for her injuries.

Officers later determined the bear had three young cubs, which averted capture Sunday. Officers will continue efforts, including the use of live traps to capture and place the cubs in the care of the New Mexico Wildlife Center in Espanola.

Here are some ways to protect yourself If you encounter a bear:

  • Stop, and back away slowly while facing the bear. Avoid direct eye contact, as the bear may consider that a threat. Do not run. Make yourself appear large by holding out your jacket. If you have small children, pick them up so they don’t run.
  • Give the bear plenty of room to escape, so it doesn’t feel threatened or trapped. If a black bear attacks you, fight back using anything at your disposal, such as rocks, sticks, binoculars or even your bare hands. Aim for the bear’s nose and eyes.
  • If the bear has not seen you, stay calm and slowly move away, making noise so the bear knows you are there. Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.

If you live or camp in bear country:

  • Keep garbage in airtight containers inside your garage or storage area. Place garbage outside in the morning just before pickup, not the night before. Occasionally clean cans with ammonia or bleach.
  • Remove bird feeders. Bears see them as sweet treats, and often they will look for other food sources nearby.
  • Never put meat or sweet-smelling food scraps such as melon in your compost pile.
  • Don’t leave pet food or food dishes outdoors at night.
  • Clean and store outdoor grills after use. Bears can smell sweet barbecue sauce and grease for miles.
  • Never intentionally feed bears to attract them for viewing.
  • Keep your camp clean, and store food and garbage properly at all times. Use bear-proof containers when available. If not, suspend food, toiletries, coolers and garbage from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet out from the tree trunk.
  • Keep your tent and sleeping bag free of all food smells. Store the clothes you wore while cooking or eating with your food.
  • Sleep a good distance from your cooking area or food storage site.

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