Man survives second bear attack in 4 years: 'I just had this deja vu'

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The chances of being attacked by a bear are extremely slim. It's even less likely it would happen twice. But the victim of an attack last week also came face-to-face with an aggressive bear four years ago. And both times, it was a fight for his life.

"Multiple attacks on my shoulders, he bit me on my head, my arms, my hand," said Bob, who asked us not to use his last name.

Bob describes receiving more than 40 bites, severe claw swipes and deep bruises in a black bear attack last week.

"It would whip around, do this 180 and go for my leg, my shoulders, my head, and just come in and bite me again, and I would just try to nail it when it came in," he said.

Bob says he was running on a well-used trail in the woods surrounding Joint Base Lewis McChord when his dog Abby spooked the bear. As it charged in his direction, Bob grabbed a four foot long tree branch and readied himself for a fight.

It was a rare scenario. But remarkably, not for Bob.

"It was just running straight for me. The dog went running by me, and I just had this deja vu," he said.

Four years ago - running on the same trail, with the same dog - Bob was attacked by a bear.

"It sort of jumped at me, grabbed my by my belly and my rear end and took me down, bit me and mauled me a couple times," he said of the 2011 attack. "I just rolled up in a ball and stayed still."

Eventually the bear left, but Bob still has scars from all the bites and scratches.

Even seasoned Wildlife Officers are stunned.

"The odds of being attacked once are very slim," said Sgt. Ted Jackson of WDFW. "The odds of being attacked twice, I would say it's impossible, last week. But it happened. I just can't even calculate the odds of being attacked once, let alone twice."

Wildlife officers never found that first bear. For six straight days, a team of agents has been pushing through the woods, determined not to let this one slip away. They wanted to match the DNA before killing the bear. But when some hounds got the bear's scent, it turned on them. They couldn't get the bear cornered to safely tranquilize it and decided they needed to shoot to kill.

They successfully took down the 300-pound bear. Agents will run tests, but they're confident it's the right one. Bob wonders if it could even be the same bear attacked him four years ago. Either way, he is relieved this is over.

"He was definitely after my head. So I was trying to protect everything up here and I was holding onto that stick and that was about the only thing that saved me," he said. "I still say it. My friends are still saying it. "Why me?"

There's no answer. There also won't be a third time.

"I love it up there," Bob said of the woods around JBLM. "But no. I'm just getting too old to fight 'em anymore, to tell you the truth."
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