FORKS, Wash. A hunter mauled by a black bear had been chasing the animal on private timberland when the animal turned the tables on its pursuers, officials said Sunday.
Bear season doesn't open until later in the year, but the man was hunting under a special permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the owner of the land near Olympic National Park.
It appeared the hunters had been pursuing the bear for some time, Fish and Wildlife Officer Brian Fairbanks said.
"It's like, you have the fight or flight response. It ran for so long, and then decided, 'We're not going to run any more,"' Fairbanks said.
At that point, the hunter and the bear were in heavy brush, the officer said. "He didn't realize the bear was there, and when he got close enough the bear jumped out and grabbed him," he explained.
It was not a surprise attack, he said.
"They knew it was there; they'd been chasing it," Fairbanks said. "The guy got bit, but he was the one who put himself in position to get bit."
A second hunter shot and killed the bear before summoning help.
The injured man underwent surgery Sunday for a broken arm, Fairbanks said.
"The bear had grabbed his arm and dragged him down an embankment," he said. "It required some surgery to put him together."
The man, whose name was not released, also suffered a broken wrist and two bite wounds on his upper thigh.