Wild Bears vs Humans

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 30th, 2008


As some kind of joke, an internet wag called Evil Melon has posted that, “Some cryptozoologist is making bizarre claims that the mythical creature known as a ‘bear’ has attacked a girl riding in a 24 hour bike race….Bears are loveable trained creatures who do not live in the wild, do not steal pickernick baskets and do not maul human beings. This is a claim that must be debunked. The wild bear does not exist.”

Not funny. Not happening. More ridicule for cryptozoologists, even for those of us who happen to have an incredible sense of humor.

In a minute, I’ll share an overview on the new Alaskan bear attack.


However, first up, breaking news also is coming from an island across the Bering Strait from Alaska.

The Interfax news agency is reporting on June 30, 2008, the remains of a man half-devoured by a bear have been recovered on Russia’s far eastern Sakhalin island. This brings to three the number of people killed by bears on the island this year.

Authorities said the body was found last week (week of June 22-28) after two friends went to swim at a hot water springs near the village of Krasnogorsk. When one later became incapacitated by leg pain, the other went off to search for help. When he returned, his friend had disappeared.

His badly mutilated body was recovered eight days later, about 200 metres away. Local police told Interfax the bear had buried parts of the body, explaining why authorities were initially unable to find it.

Local hunters backed by police have been trying to track down the bear to kill it, without success.

According to police, a couple encountered a bear in the same area in 2007, but the woman managed to save herself by climbing a tree, while the man was mauled by the animal.

Since January 2008, three people have been killed by bears on Sakhalin, which has a population of 3,000 bears.


Meanwhile, all over the net and news today, June 30, 2008, is the story of a teenage girl riding in an all-night mountain bike race who was badly injured early Sunday morning, June 29, when a bear attacked her on a trail in Far North Bicentennial Park, Alaska.

Law enforcement personnel with shotguns escorted medics into dark woods to retrieve the girl, who underwent surgery at Providence Alaska Medical Center. The girl is expected to survive, Anchorage Fire Department spokeswoman Cleo Hill said, who was quoted as saying the unnamed girl had the “most extensively traumatic injuries he’d seen.”

The bear is believed to be a grizzly, state biologist Rick Sinnott said. It’s possible it’s the same sow who charged a pair of joggers two weekends ago on a nearby trail, he said.

Peter Basinger, a cyclist competing in the race, encountered the injured girl on a trail called Rover’s Run shortly after the attack happened around 1:30 a.m. The trail parallels the south fork of Campbell Creek, a stream stocked with salmon by the state and fished frequently by grizzlies.

The girl mumbled the word “bear” but was unable to say more, Basinger said. Basinger waited with the girl for about 25 minutes until medics arrived.

Emergency responders had to hike about half a mile from the South Bivouac trailhead off Campbell Airstrip Road to reach the girl.

The girl was among about 60 participants in a 24-hour race sponsored by the Arctic Bicycle Club. The race began at noon Saturday and was to end at noon Sunday, but organizers canceled it after the attack.

As noted in the link above to the original Anchorage article, it should be consulted for a longer version of the story. Also, nearly 200 comments from readers who had something to say about this event can be located there.

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Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

19 Responses to “Wild Bears vs Humans”

  1. Amdusias responds:

    It looks more like satire to me, Loren, than crypto-slamming.

    It could have been written better. It looks like he was going for an “Onion-esque” take on the antrhropomorphic bear of our childhood stories, contrasted against the dangerous reality. Folks get mauled all the time feeding bears bread in Yellowstone, for example, or like these stories, just being in their hunting area. So I really think he is trying to capture humanity’s tendency to ignore a stack of proof to which we have access, in the form of a characterized fiction. This comes off as pro-crypto to me.

  2. DavidFullam responds:

    That guy’s “joke” is not only unfunny, but it also makes no sense. What an idiot.

  3. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    Sakhalin Island has a population of over 600,000 people. It is about three times the size of New Hampshire. Population density is almost 9 people per square Kilometer. Bear density is about 1 per 26 Km squared. In other words–people and bears are in very close proximity and you are bound to have confrontations. There is no mystery there. Just too many bear and too many people crossing paths plus a dwindling food supply for the bears. It is surprising there haven’t been more bear attacks!

    As for the Alaskan incident–no one should venture out into the wild of Alaska without both bear repellent and a large caliber rifle. I can’t imagine why they would hold something like a bike race in bear country. The problem is not the bears half as much as it is the people who sponsor events like this and then are amazed that something bad happens. I am very sorry for those injured and for the families of those killed, but people and bears don’t work and play together well. People need to realize that the wild areas are not like a city park.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    HoosierHunter writes:
    “I can’t imagine why they would hold something like a bike race in bear country.”

    To which, I must add: As an all-night event!

  5. shumway10973 responds:

    Grizzly bears don’t mind a small chase (marathons are out). If it was the sow they think it is, the poor girl just got too close to the cubs. If not, I’m sure human on bike looks a bit like a moose or deer running away–“Gotta chase…” Probably the only reason she’s alive today is because the bear tried a part of the bike and realized it didn’t like this creature. Let me guess. Seeing how Alaska has had a good number of people move up there, someone from the lower 48 decided to set up this mountain bike race, “It’ll be fun!” Yeah, I always enjoy having to out run a grizzly bear.

  6. Tengu responds:

    Its very droll.

    bears make good eating….

  7. joe levit responds:

    I have to agree with the sentiments expressed about the idiocy of hosting an all-night bike ride in an area that is stocked with salmon and where bears frequent. I do feel very sorry for the girl involved, but the organization that sponsored this event was asking for trouble. The night part of this event is ridiculous under any circumstance. Multiple individuals in the woods, alone, at night. People themselves could be a problem, as night offers a lot of protection for some nuts to create havoc.

  8. Amdusias responds:

    Joe Levit you hit the nail on the head.

    If this were the start of a horror flick, the premise of having a bike race at night, in Alaska, through the woods, is so unbelievable as to prevent one from suspending disbelief for two hours.

    I would like to say that folks will have learned their lesson, but history would suggest otherwise.

  9. MattBille responds:

    It is a tragic reminder of one of the reasons bears fascinate us: we have not conquered them. We have cut their numbers and their ranges but out there in the dark is still a predator capable of killing humans, and we are a long way from a complete understanding of bear behavior. A race in the dark was a setup for trouble: it probably seemed safer than it was because of the proximity to a large human city.

  10. red_pill_junkie responds:

    I agree whole-heartedly with HoosieHuneter and Joe Levit. IMO that poor girl should sue the organization that promoted this competition.

  11. dogu4 responds:

    All night in Anchorage this time of the year is all daylight, or at least dusk.
    When you have darkness up there, ironically, the bears are typically hibernating.
    Never the less, I would be surprised if this changes much regarding behavior for Alaskan enthusiasts anymore than auto-accidents which kill 40 thousand in the US lower 48 every year, stop them from going on drives.
    And, having lived in Anchorage and other locations in bear country in the past, I can say that I’d take the bears over the auto-accidents and other urban threats, anytime.

  12. DWA responds:


    red_pill_junkie responds:

    “I agree whole-heartedly with HoosieHuneter and Joe Levit. IMO that poor girl should sue the organization that promoted this competition.”

    Wait, now. She was not drugged and smuggled to Alaska and strapped to the back of a bike. SHE HAD TO VOLUNTARILY REGISTER TO PARTICIPATE.

    If you do anything outdoors in Alaska, you are responsible to know about bears, and to recognize that all your precautions might not be enough.

    I’ve railed much, on other forums, about people who use wild country and the places that adjoin it as mass playgrounds. That’s disrespectful. I sure hope an animal that was simply trying to teach us a little respect doesn’t suffer for it.

    And actually I wouldn’t be too surprised if most people associated with the event agree, and consider themselves duly chastised. If not, they need to run their next bike race somewhere safe, like Illinois. AFTER checking for bears.

  13. MattBille responds:

    Ouch. My apologies to Alaskans. I completely forgot what time of year this is.
    Just like you don’t hike alone in bear country, though, I presume the rule is you should not bike alone in it, either, and the racers were no doubt strung out by that point in the race. Given the earlier incident with the hikers, it would seem sensible to have patrols on the course during low-light periods and require everyone to carry repellant. Whether such precautions were taken (they would not, of course, be a guarantee) is not stated in the article.

  14. red_pill_junkie responds:

    DWA, you may be correct, but nevertheless it would be interesting to know if the organizers properly informed the race participants about the threat of bears on the area. Or maybe the organizers were counting on the bears being hibernating, but didn’t consider the possibility that climate change disrupt the natural cycles of these animals.

    And you’re right, I like you think that people shouldn’t consider the countryside as an extension of the backyard. Last month WIRED magazine mentioned this on their article about the Enviroment, when they promoted urban living as a greener alternative to suburbs encrouching natural habitats—Of course, this was the opinion of Manhattanites, so it’s not difficult to see it may be somewhat biased 😉

  15. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    DWA-I agree, and I didn’t bring up the idea of suing the organizers. But the article doesn’t state whether these riders were native Alaskans, new arrivals, or from out of state or a mixture. If they lived there long enough to know the danger then I completely agree. If they were from all over the country then they may not have been aware of the danger. Irregardless, I believe the organizers of the event should have made every effort to make the riders aware of the dangers, but frankly we don’t know to what extent they did try to make the riders safe. Hopefully, they will have learned a lesson and not try to tempt bears with meals-on-wheels again!

  16. cryptidsrus responds:


    If that was “satire”, it’s not very funny, either.

    More unneeded ridicule for cryptozoologists…

  17. DWA responds:


    Alaska is one of those places they say: if you go there, you ain’t passin’ through, you’re goin’ there.

    Not sure we can use riders-didn’t-know as an excuse. The riders would have had to be pretty ignorant; bears practically staff every AK chamber of commerce. The organizers certainly had no excuse not to warn every contestant: riding this one is risk of life, and we aren’t talking heatstroke.

    This is what you call your objective difficulties here. I agree with Amdusias: This is like a horror film where they go: what’s the most likely strategy to get us all picked off by the monster, one by one with no chance of helping each other? GREAT. Let’s do that!

    Oh. They all DO do that, don’t they…? And yeah, when I’m watching those, suspending disbelief is the last thing I’m doing.

    I still have to say: when you sign up for a ride like this, you have to recognize more risks than improper tire pressure. And I’m not inclined to continue to put all the onus on the organizers, although yeah, I CANNOT BELIEVE THEY DID THIS. I require brains to be attached to all those pumping quads out there.

    If we are going to have mass events like this, every participant has to be responsible for his or her participation. Completely.

  18. Doug responds:

    Using bear attacks that end in tragedy as a way to poke fun at a particular group strikes me as someone who has no class whatsoever.

  19. archer1945 responds:

    I would suggest some of you read the report from Alaska about the race. This is not a new event, it has been going on for a number of years. However, this year, I forget why the usual course was not used. If I’m not mistaken all riders were equipped with bells and other noise makers to let bears know they were in the area. However when this incident occurred an extremely strong wind was blowing making it almost impossible to hear anything, the rescue party stated they had an extremely difficult time hearing each other.

    The rider who found her and actually alerted the emergency crews happened to hear her cellphone go off when the 911 people called back because the phone had gone dead when she was able, barely, to call for help. The person who found her literally put his own life on the line to stay with her until help arrived. He said he was never so scared because even though it was some light, it was not that light, and with the wind blowing there was no way he could hear a thing and all he knew was this girl had been able to tell him it was a bear that attacked her.

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