Son Punches Bear in Head to Save Father's Life
A Swedish father and son had an extremely close call.
A Swedish father and son had an extremely close call during a hunting trip: An angry bear attacked the father, forcing the teen to punch the animal in the head to save his father's life. Read on to find out how the attack happened, and how things turned out for all three.
In Sweden, the bear population has recently rebounded to about 3,000. This has proven a problem for farmers and ranchers, who have found the animals kill about 50,000 reindeer each year. This year, the government authorized legal bear hunting to help cull their number. It was at the beginning of that hunting season that the father and son had their terrifying encounter.
The unnamed father and son were hunting in Ljusdal, a rural area of central Sweden about 180 miles north of Stockholm. They were pursuing a female bear weighing about 300 pounds when it turned around and attacked the father.
The bear pinned the older man down and slashed his face. The son then punched it in the head, said Jonny Sjoblom, the hunter leading the expedition. The bear released the father and bit the son's wrist, giving his father time to shoot it dead.
Both men were taken to the hospital. The father's facial injuries are said to be serious but not life-threatening.
The bear was on the smaller side compared to some bears culled by hunters, said Benny Gafvert of the Swedish branch of the World Wildlife Fund. Some have weighed up to 750 pounds. "It wasn't a giant bear, but if you compare it to a dog, for example, it was significantly bigger, stronger and with more power in its jaws," he told a local TV station.
"The bear is an apex predator and is not accustomed to being hunted. If they are threatened or injured, they are capable of killing humans, although that is not their intention," he said. "Bears are highly intelligent animals and mainly want to neutralize any threat in order to get away."
Bear attacks are rare and usually happen when humans get too close or don't respect the animal's space. There are about 40 bear attacks worldwide each year and only 11 in North America. According to the National Park Service, your chance of being attacked by a bear is 1 in 2.7 million visits to a national park and 1 in 26 million visits to a roadside campground.
Last month in Japan, a legendary brown bear nicknamed "Ninja"—because of its ability to elude authorities after attacking livestock—was killed by hunters. The bear was believed to have attacked at least 66 cows since 2019 in Hokkaido.
The bear became somewhat of a local celebrity because of its ability to elude efforts to capture it. Experts were also confused by the predator's behavior—it wouldn't eat the cows it attacked and only killed about half of its victims.
Authorities engaged in a three-year search for the bear, using traps, fences, and cameras. They set up machines that emitted light and noise in attempts to repel the animal. It caused an estimated $158,000 in damages. "Hopefully local residents will feel relieved," said local government official Seiichi Sugiyama, according to Kyodo News.