Two cyclists were attacked by a grizzly bear near Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday. But both survived after one deployed bear spray to stop the attack.
The bear charged Alex Ippoliti and James Fredrick, who were riding bikes near the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson military base, located just a couple miles outside Anchorage.
The men first heard rustling in the woods as they pedaled along a wide gravel road on the base. The bear charged “out of nowhere,” lifting Fredrick off his bike.
“When she dropped him, she turned toward me, and I was able to spray the bear,” Ippoliti told ABC News.
Bear Spray Deters Grizzly
Bear spray is a popular method of deterring attacks. The powerful pepper spray typically contains 1- to 2-percent capsaicin and related capsaicinoids — the hot stuff in spicy peppers.
In this instance, spraying the bear stopped the attack. And while no method of bear deterrence is 100-percent effective (no, not even powerful firearms), bear spray often works.
Ippoliti reported that after spraying the bear, it hung around nearby. That’s when he noticed a cub in a tree.
Ippoliti worked to stop Fredricks’ bleeding, then the two men slowly backed away from the area.
Recent Bear Attacks
The attack comes on the heels of several maulings near Anchorage. A 16-year-old boy was killed by a black bear on June 18 while running a trail race near Bird Creek, about 30 miles south of Anchorage.
One day later, a biological technician and newlywed named Erin Johnson was killed by a predatory black bear southeast of Fairbanks.
Also on Saturday, a second brown bear attack occurred near the tiny town of Hope, about 100 miles south of Anchorage. Joshua Brekken, 45, was walking to collect firewood when he encountered a bear. Alaska State Troopers said he tried to climb a nearby tree, but the bear swatted him out before running into the woods with its cub.
While unsettling, bear attacks are generally uncommon.
“Well, it’s good to be careful in bear country,” wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott told CBS News. “There’s only been six predatory black bear attacks in Alaska that I know of I think in history. So all of a sudden to have two in the course of two days, it’s a lightning strike.”
Though rare, bear attacks are serious. Be prepared when in bear country. Make noise, stay observant, and carry bear spray.