The tables were turned, writes Barrett Mohrmann in today’s Lynchburg News and Advance, on a Bedford County hunter when a black bear bit him and his hounds.
Dwayne Karns, 32, was hunting with dogs in the area of Suck Mountain in Bedford when the incident occurred, said Sgt. Brian Young, of the Virginia Department of Inland Game and Fisheries.
Young called the attack provoked and said Bedford residents should not feel alarmed. This marks the only instance this year in which someone has been bitten by a bear.
I wrote about black bears from time to time when I was the outdoors columnist for the Times-Dispatch. The topic always generated a good number of reader emails. Many Central Virginians were surprised to learn, no matter how many times I wrote about it, that black bears are A) the only bear species in Virginia and B) are not confined to the mountainous parts of the state or the Great Dismal Swamp (though that is where they are found in the largest numbers). I once wrote about a huge black bear taken in Powhatan Co. near the Chesterfield line. Ralph White once told me about seeing a black bear in Pony Pasture Park. And I remember a few years back when I black bear was hit by a motorist on I-95 in the city.
Black bears, like coyotes, are among us.
Back in 2011, Jaime Sajecki, the game department’s black bear project leader, estimated that Virginia’s black bear population numbered 16,000animals and was growing at an annual rate of around 9.5 percent.
That isn’t something to be afraid of, she said.. Eighty percent of a black bear’s diet is vegetation — berries, acorns, leaves. The other 20 percent, where they get their protein, usually are insects and carrion. Black bears will prey on smaller mammals if given the opportunity, but that’s generally not their style.
That brings us back to the hunter in Bedford. As Mohrmann writes, Young said Karns was bitten after his dogs had wandered onto private property and had confronted a bear. Karns tried to protect his dogs but slipped.
“The terrain in that area was pretty steep. He literally almost slid into the bear,” Young said. “The bear turned around and bit him.”
Probably won’t be the last time.