WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) — A bear that attacked a Virginia man in the George Washington National Forest in West Virginia has eluded attempts to capture it.
Steven Krichbaum, 59, of Staunton, Virginia, and his dog, Henry, encountered the female bear and her two cubs while walking in the forest in Hardy County, West Virginia. The bear attacked Krichbaum after the dog went after the cubs, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said in a statement issued to media outlets.
Krichbaum hit the bear with a rock, enabling him and his dog to escape. He drove across the border to a fruit market in Frederick County to get help, and was taken to Winchester Medical Center for treatment of severe injuries, Jamie Sajecki, Virginia’s black bear project leader said in the statement. Hospital spokeswoman Carol Weare said Monday that Krichbaum had been discharged but couldn’t say when that took place.
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources set traps for the bears on Friday, the day after the attack. The traps were removed on Monday, Colin Carpenter, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resource’s black bear project leader, told The Associated Press.
Carpenter had told the Winchester Star on Friday that West Virginia authorities planned to euthanize the bear and her cubs, if they were captured.
Heidi Flynn of Wardensville, West Virginia, launched an online petition drive calling on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia’s congressional delegation to revise the DNR’s policies to prevent such euthanasia attempts. As of Monday, the petition posted on change.org had 2,000 signatures.
“This incident happened pretty much in my backyard, our property backs up to the George Washington National Forest,” Flynn told The Winchester Star. “I’ve had a mother bear and a cub right on my front porch — it’s just hitting close to home.”
Sajecki told The Northern Virginia Daily that Virginia does not take action against bears if they are provoked into attacking, which appeared to be the case in the West Virginia incident.
“Because the dog precipitated this event, we wouldn’t necessarily put a bear down in that situation because she was out in her habitat where she should have been,” Sajecki told the newspaper. “She was doing what she needed to do.”