Black Bear Attacks Hiker in So Cal Foothills

Unusual incident possibly due to recent wildfire

On Tuesday morning, July 22nd, Allena Hansen (57) of Twin Oaks was attacked by a black bear while hiking alone with her two large dogs near Caliente, California, in a triangular region between the Walker Basin and Piute Mountain Roads. Apparently the bear attacked Hansen, and the two dogs intervened, but the bear still reached her. Hansen received significant lacerations on her face and head, but was able to flee the scene, and drive to a nearby fire station at the Walker Road /Piute Road intersection. The dogs, one an English mastiff, the other an Irish wolfhound, were later found alive, the mastiff with some cuts.

The attack happened in the Red Mountain/King Solomon Ridge area of the Sequoia National Forest, a region of steep, rugged, pinyon/chaparral covered foothills that run between 3,800 and 5,200 feet elevation. The streambeds contain some forest, but most of the country is relatively open and arid. For Google mappers, the incident occurred northeast of Caliente, roughly half-way between that hamlet and Lake Isabella, within the triangle formed by Cholly Canyon, Bracchi Spring and Thompson Spring. (Sorry, I’ll try to get better at Google map links to illustrate future incidents.)

The attack site is within several miles of a 30,000-acre wildfire that burned earlier this month. It’s theorized that the bear was looking for food and habitat. It was the 13th “attack” reported in California since 1980. But most such attacks are the result of people sleeping near food, or feeding bears and getting swatted. This was apparently a predatory attack, although few details are currently available, and the presence of dogs may have triggered the bear too. The black bear population in California is healthy and growing, in part due to the vacant habitat created by grizzly extinction in the state.Hansen underwent 10 hours of surgery, but is apparently OK. Authorities are attempting to trap the culprit.