WINCHESTER, Va. (AP/ABC News) - A bear that attacked a Virginia man in the George Washington National Forest in West Virginia has eluded attempts to capture it.
Steven Krichbaum, 59, of Staunton, Va., and his dog, Henry, encountered the female bear and her two cubs while walking in the forest in Hardy County, West Virginia. The mother bear attacked Krichbaum after the dog went after the cubs, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said in a statement.
"She charges down the bank and bites my thigh and she has my leg in her mouth chewing on me, and I'm on my back screaming," said Krichbaum.
He hit the bear with a rock, enabling him and his dog to escape. He drove across the border to a fruit market in Frederick County to get help, and was taken to Winchester Medical Center for treatment of severe injuries,
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources set traps for the bears on Friday, the day after the attack. The traps were removed on Monday, said Colin Carpenter, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resource's black bear project leader.
Carpenter had said on Friday that West Virginia authorities planned to euthanize the bear and her cubs, if they were captured.
Heidi Flynn of Wardensville, West Virginia, launched an online petition drive calling on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and West Virginia's congressional delegation to revise the DNR's policies to prevent such euthanasia attempts. As of Monday, the petition posted on change.org had 2,000 signatures.
"This incident happened pretty much in my backyard, our property backs up to the George Washington National Forest," Flynn said. "I've had a mother bear and a cub right on my front porch - it's just hitting close to home."
Sajecki said that Virginia does not take action against bears if they are provoked into attacking, which appeared to be the case in the West Virginia incident.
"Because the dog precipitated this event, we wouldn't necessarily put a bear down in that situation because she was out in her habitat where she should have been," Sajecki said. "She was doing what she needed to do."