Tips on surviving a bear attack - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Tips on surviving a bear attack

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(08/19/13) - It's the attack a lot of people are talking about.

A 12-year-old girl out for a jog is attacked by a bear, twice.

It happened in Wexford County, near Cadillac.

And if you think bear are only up north, or on display at outdoor stores, think again.

"We have 8,00 to 10,000 bear in the state," said Katie Keen, a wildlife outreach technician with the Department of Natural Resources.

Just last year a bear got stuck in a culvert along I-75, was rescued by the DNR, and tragically, a week later was hit by a car and had to be put down.

The man who hit that bear was thankful he was OK.

So is Abby Wetherell of Wexford County.

"I was screaming, 'help, help' and crying," said the 12-year-old. The bear attacked her once, started to go away, and then came back a second time.

The DNR says her cries for help were key to her survival.

They add you never want to surprise a bear.

"So we tell folks either travel in groups or if you're alone make noise. Some folks will sing, talk. You can put a bell on your belt," Keen said.

And if you do encounter a bear, Keen has this advice. "Stand your ground and back away slowly. Make yourself appear as large as you can, and as loud as you can. And you're just attempting to scare the bear."

At Cabela's Outpost in Kochville Township, there's another kind of deterrent.

"Real easy to use, and a real darn good idea if you're going in bear country," said Mike Rusz, an outfitter at the store.

Rusz is talking about bear spray. It's more powerful than typical pepper spray.

"It's going to have a longer range. They're made that way on purpose for bears," Rusz said.

And there are specially designed carriers to keep this stuff handy.

"Attach the canister to your chest, so it's right there for you to grab," Rusz said.

The DNR is doing tests on a bear that had to be put down in the area where Wetherell was attacked. They should know by the end of the week if it's the same bear. DNA will help make that determination.

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