But what lead to the attack?
Thea Thomas tried to step off the trail as a brown bear sprinted toward her, chasing a friend’s dog that she had brought along for a hike in Cordova on Tuesday afternoon. Yet in an instant, Thomas was flat on the ground, face-to-face with an angry bear that bit her repeatedly during the mauling on Heney Ridge Trail.
“By the end, I was thinking, ‘I could die here,’ ” Thomas said from an Anchorage hospital Wednesday, where she was medevaced after the attack.
The trail had opened from dense forest into a series of grassy meadows. She was walking on a boardwalk that cut through the meadow. The two dogs -- her 1-year-old blue heeler, Kiska, and a friend’s Akita -- had run off out of sight, she said.
Then, “I started to hear this growling,” Thomas said. “Immediately I thought ‘That’s not a plane -- that’s something else.’ ”
The growling seemed to be about 25 feet away. Then she saw the Akita run up onto the trail and sprint toward her. “The bear was literally on its butt,” Thomas said. She tried to step off the trail.
Wildlife experts have issued several warnings this season about unleashed dogs in bear country. The dogs get scared and run back to their owners for protection ... bringing the bear(s) in their wake.
The Akita ran past her, but the bear didn’t. Within seconds, the bear had knocked her flat on the ground.
We wish Ms. Thomas a speedy and full recovery.