Man suffers injuries in bear attack along Sierra Madre hiking trail

A 52-year-old man hiking near Sierra Madre was reportedly attacked by a black bear while trying to back away from another bear along a trail.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan said the man encountered a bear on a trail at 10:45 a.m. Monday.

As they eyed each other, a second bear came out of nowhere and attacked him.

"Rearing-up" is what a bear does when it becomes aggressive or defensive. The hiker is 5 feet, 11 inches tall. Sierra Madre Police Chief Larry Giannone said when standing, the bear was taller than him.

"He was able to fight the bear off and eventually the bear went off in the other direction," Giannone said.

The man walked back three miles down the trail on his own and was taken to Methodist Hospital in Arcadia for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Giannone said the hiker had cuts on his head, his upper torso, his legs and his feet area. He was reportedly in "satisfactory condition."

The attack happened in the Angeles National Forest, just north of the city of Sierra Madre's Bailey Canyon Wilderness Park. The park has since been closed.

"There is no immediate threat to the Sierra Madre community as this is well into the mountain area,'' according to police.

By mid-afternoon, the bear hunt was on.

Game wardens took swabs of the attack area and the victim's shorts and will attempt to capture the bear, which will be put down if it can be positively identified, Hughan said.

"They're going to go up the zigzag trail in Bailey Canyon up to the cabins site near where the attack was," said Rob Klusman with Sierra Madre Search and Rescue. "They'll sweep the trail to see if they can find the bears and be sure there's nobody else up there."

Giannone said such attacks are rare, and it may be the first to occur in that area.

"We have hundreds of hikers that come up during the week, on the weekends up here,'' he said. "They have seen bears on the trail, they've been non-aggressive, they've been off to the side. It's my understanding this bear
was actually on the trail itself -- not unusual but kind of unusual for the hikers.''

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