PRIEST LAKE, Idaho – Wildlife officials tried to track down the bear that attacked a woman near Priest Lake on Tuesday but they called off the search on Wednesday.
At Priest Lake, there are an average of three bears per square mile, according to staff at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Despite that bear population, they note that attacks like these are very, very rare.
Phil Cooper with Fish and Game said that in his memory, he cannot recall any bear attacks in the Priest Lake area, especially one this bad.
"It was quite a surprise that we had this incident," Cooper said. “The victim in this instance lost a tremendous amount of blood."
The 60-year-old woman, who was attacked while walking her dogs near the Priest Lake visitor’s center, is expected to be ok. Officials said she was able to call her family after the attack and make it out of the area on her own. Fish and Game officials said the woman was not carrying bear spray or a gun at the time and likely surprised the bear. While local houndsmen were enlisted to help track the bear, it initially got away. The plan was to euthanize the animal if it was caught, but that definitely will not be happening.
"The bear has moved quite a distance at this point. Were we to follow a bear, we could not be certain at this point we'd have the same bear," Cooper explained.
IDFG officals said people in the wilderness around Priest Lake should carry bear spray and be aware of the critters. At the same time, there is no need to panic because black bear attacks on humans are not common.
“I even talked to a local who does not remember in his entire lifetime, who lives up in Priest Lake, having a bear actually attack a person," Cooper said.
As for the trails in that area, the U.S. forest service has re-opened them. They are advising people with dogs to keep their pets on leashes.