Oklahoma Department of Wildlife officers are investigating a possible bear-human encounter that may have happened in rural Sequoyah County early Friday.
Regional ODWC Supervisor Craig Endicott said a report came in that a man in his early 20s had been knocked down by a bear Friday morning in a rural area west of the dam at Lake Tenkiller.
He said the man's mother told biologists her son ran to a neighbor's house around 3:00 a.m.to get help because his brother needed medical attention.
When the man went back home, he said a bear jumped out at him on the road and pushed him to the ground.
Endicott says the man said he didn't see the bear, but told biologists it was growling and stomping. The man's mother said she was on the phone with her son and claimed she heard the growls as well.
Endicott said the man made it home safely after the encounter. He was taken to the hospital with scratches on his arms, which the family believes came from the bear. He also had a leg injury.
As of now, state wildlife biologists cannot confirm it was a bear that hurt the man, but Endicott says they are taking the claim seriously and treating it as a human-bear encounter.
Endicott said biologists and game wardens went to the scene Friday to investigate and set a trap, adding they will check the trap every morning for the next week or so.
Biologists took hair samples from the man's shirt that will be sent off to be tested.
Endicott says the ODWC has trapped 45 black bears in that area over the past five years, so there are bears there, but says it's extremely rare for a black bear to attack a human.
He said in the rare cases when it has happened, it's because the bear is protecting its cubs. Or it could also happen if the bear becomes conditioned to being fed by humans and the feeding stops.
If you encounter a bear, Craig Endicott says it's best to back away and talk to it to let it know you're there.