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black bear in woods

A 66-year-old man was killed by a bear in a “highly uncommon (in Arizona),” unprovoked attack on Friday, June 16, 2023. Steven Jackson, of Tucson, was sitting in a chair outside of his campsite drinking coffee in the Groom Creek area near Prescott when a bear attacked him, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.

The bear dragged Jackson about 75 yards and was in the process of consuming him when neighbors heard his screams for help and tried to scare the bear away by yelling and honking horns. One neighbor eventually grabbed a rifle and shot the bear, killing it, but Jackson was already dead.

“They did what they could. Unfortunately, it didn’t help Mr. Jackson, but it definitely prevented a situation where we had a bear at large,” said field supervisor of the AZ Game and Fish Department, Darren Tucker. “The bear’s actions were stopped right there, so, you know, thank goodness that person took action.”

The sheriff’s office said the attack was “highly unusual” and that bears are typically not aggressive toward humans unless they feel threatened. Jackson was not known to have done anything to provoke the bear, and it is not clear why the bear attacked him.

The bear was a male black bear, and it is estimated to have been upwards of 300 pounds. 

Jackson’s death is the first fatal bear attack in Arizona since 2015. There have been a total of 12 fatal bear attacks in Arizona since 1980.

The sheriff’s office is urging people to be aware of their surroundings when they are in bear country and to take precautions to avoid attracting bears. These precautions include making noise while hiking, carrying bear spray, and storing food in bear-proof containers. The bear in this case probably smelled the coffee, or other breakfast items Jackson may have been eating outside.

The sheriff’s office also said that people should never approach a bear, even if it appears to be docile. If you see a bear, the best thing to do is to leave the area immediately.

Bear Attacks

Jackson’s death is a tragic reminder of the dangers that can be posed by bears. However, it is important to remember that these attacks are rare. By taking precautions and being aware of your surroundings, you can help to prevent a bear attack from happening.

Just to paint a horrific picture, being eaten by a bear is extremely gruesome. There was a Russian tourist eaten by a tiger shark in Egypt last week. The man was pulled underwater and killed rather quickly, effectively being bitten in half. If you are attacked by a large predator cat, such as a lion, tiger, etc., they strategically attack vital areas, such as your neck, shake your body to disable and kill you quickly, then pull your body to (their) safety to finish eating you.

Bears on the other hand are omnivores, so they don’t really attack prey like a carnivore would. If they are going to eat you, they grab you, hold you down, and just bite chunks out of you, slowly consuming your body with no concern for a quick merciful death. Unless it starts with your head, but it probably won’t.

If you are in the woods where bears live, even an area that is considered “unlikely to have a bear attack” like Arizona was deemed, have your bear spray, and your backup bear spray handy. Always. No exceptions.

As always, be safe and be prepared.


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