Washington woman survives bear attack by smacking it "right in the nose"

Black bear on Road Mr Rainier, Washington, USA
(Image credit: Getty)

A woman from Washington State survived an attack from a black bear by fighting back and smacking the animal on the nose. The woman, who hasn't been named, was with her dog early on Saturday morning when she was charged without warning.

In a statement, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said the woman had "sustained non-life-threatening injuries and is currently receiving medical care at a Wenatchee hospital".

“She didn’t see it coming so she could not make herself big, clap her hands, you know, yell at the bear, wave her arms,” Washington State wildlife biologist Rich Beausoleil told local news station KING-TV. “Those are the things we usually tell people to do.

"“If the bear knocks you down, then yes, your solution is to fight," said Beausoleil. "It was just instinct for her. She just turned around and popped it right in the nose."

It's possible that the bear may have been protecting her young. Wildlife officers used a bear dog to find the bear, which was then euthanized. They also found two nine-month-old cubs, which were taken to a rehabilitation facility.

“We are extremely thankful that the victim is receiving medical care from this unfortunate encounter,” said WDFW Captain Mike Jewell. “Public safety is our priority; our officers and staff were quick to mobilize to locate the animal and secure the scene."

How to stay safe

Black bears can be found in nearly every US state, and although they will naturally prefer to avoid contact with humans, they can be aggressive if startled, or if they feel their young are threatened. They may also attack if they feel their food source it at risk, particularly in the fall when they are fattening up in preparation for hibernation.

If you realize you have strayed too close to a bear, whether it has seen you or not, it's important to resist the urge to run, as this can trigger the animal's instinct to chase. It you've not been spotted, back away, trying to stay downwind of the animal. If it knows you are there, talk to it in a calm, loud, and consistent voice while making yourself look as large as possible by holding your arms up, and holding a jacket over your head if you have one. Back away, watching the bear without making eye contact. 

If you are attacked by a black bear, your best course of action is to get inside a building or car, but if that's not possible then fighting back is the right thing to do. Never play dead around a black bear, as they are scavengers, and won't be deterred. For more advice, see our guide what to do if you meet a bear.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.