A Missoula woman was injured Friday morning when she surprised a female black bear with two cubs on the Crazy Canyon Trail on the east side of Missoula.
According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), the woman was running down the Crazy Canyon Trail in the Lolo National Forest Pattee Canyon Recreation Area at approximately 8:30 a.m. when she spotted an adult black bear in front of her.
The jogger immediately stopped, began to back away from the bear and then noticed that she was between the bear and two cubs. The bear approached and swiped at her and made contact, and the woman responded by speaking firmly and raising her arms to protect her face and make herself look larger. The bear then made several advances towards her before both she and the bear backed away and left the scene.
The jogger sought medical attention for minor abrasions on her arms and chest. The injuries did not require stitches, and she was released from the hospital this morning.
FWP Warden Captain, Jeff Darrah, says that the woman responded appropriately. “When she realized that she was between the mom and her cubs and could not simply back away and leave the area, she did what she should have done to protect herself.”
FWP wardens will visit the scene today and will work with the US Forest Service to post the surrounding area to notify visitors about the recent bear activity.
FWP and the Forest Service says that this encounter is a reminder that Missoula Valley is home to abundant wildlife, particularly on forested trails and along densely forested stream bottoms.
According to FWP Wildlife Manager, Mike Thompson, “Unfortunately this woman ended up between a mom and her cubs, which made the bear feel threatened. Bears and other wildlife with young often have more difficulty reacting to surprise encounters at this time of year because the young wildlife are still more dependent and less mobile than they will be by fall and winter. Hikers and others should be aware that an encounter with defensive wildlife can happen anywhere, anytime. We recommend staying alert to your surroundings, making noise when travelling through dense cover and carrying bear spray as a precaution.”