A ravenous black bear in Canada powered through an entire can of bear spray to steal and stash a pet dog.
The incident took place last Saturday in Jasper National Park, according to officials. A pair of hikers were walking with their two dogs off-leash when they noticed a bear near the trailhead. One of the dogs began to chase the bear, but it didn’t take long for the bear to turn the tables.
The bear turned back towards the hikers and snatched the second dog, which had also been barking. One of the hikers sprayed the bear with bear spray “at close range,” according to the incident report. The bear did not release the dog, so the hiker used the can to punch the bear in the head several times. This convinced the bear to leave, but it did not release the dog.
“This close and aggressive approach by a large black bear is very concerning behaviour,” said Jasper National Park officials. “The attack on the dog and subsequent caching of the carcass, indicates predatory behaviour. This behaviour is considered a threat to public safety and a risk to park visitors.”
That threat warranted immediate action. Parks Canada deployed human-wildlife conflict specialists for an investigation, and they killed the 204-pound bore the next day.
Black bears rarely attack humans, but conflicts between bears and pet dogs are more common. Last year, a bear killed a six-year-old Chihuahua outside its home while its owners screamed at the bear to go away.
In another incident from 2022, a black bear weighing at least 400 pounds bit an 81-year-old woman outside her New Jersey home before dragging the woman’s dog into the woods and mauling it to death.
In 2019, another pet dog in Florida was killed by a black bear sow with cubs. The bear encountered the dog in a backyard, killed it there, and left.
Wildlife officials believe this most recent attack was motivated by hunger, and the offending bear had likely been habituated to humans.
The bear was “very concerned about getting something to eat and was willing to put up with a lot of abuse to keep the dog,” retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Chris Servheen told the Cowboy State Daily.
The bear “displayed no fear or reaction to bear spray or punches,” Jasper National Park officials added. “This non-typical behaviour indicates a highly habituated bear and increased the likelihood of further negative interactions.”
Jasper National Park officials warned visitors in 2022 that due to the presence of bears, domestic animals must be kept under their owners’ physical control at all times.
“Our condolences go out to the pet owners involved in this incident. This is a sad reminder that all pets should be kept under control and on-leash at all times within a national park,” officials said.