An Arizona man was fatally mauled by a black bear that attacked him unprovoked while he was having his morning coffee on Friday.
Steven Jackson, 66, died and the bear was killed by a neighbor who was trying to save his life, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.
“From multiple witness accounts and preliminary investigation of the scene, Mr. Jackson had been sitting having coffee at a table on his property where he was building a home,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post, adding it was a remote, heavily wooded area.
“It appears that a male black bear attacked Mr. Jackson, taking him unaware, and dragged him approximately 75 feet down an embankment.”
Neighbors heard Jackson screaming and tried to help “through shouts and car horns” but the bear did not release him until a neighbor shot him with his rifle, the sheriff’s office said.
“Unfortunately, by that time Mr. Jackson has succumbed to his horrible injuries,” they added.
“It sounds like this would have been a predatory attack,” said John Trierweiler, public information officer for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
This kind of attack is “highly uncommon and unusual, with only one other fatal attack known since the mid 1980s,” the sheriff’s office said.
Fatal bear attacks in general are exceedingly rare, averaging about one per year in the US, according to the North American Bear Center.
“At first glance there did not appear to be anything on the site that would have precipitated an attack by the bear, such as food, a cooking site or access to water,” they added.
Trierweiler further explained the incident did not seem like a female bear protecting her cubs, but law enforcement officials are still gathering the facts about what occurred.
Black bears are the only bears found in Arizona, according to the US Forest Service, which says they usually avoid people.
“We have had no other reports that would indicate that the public is in danger. Please do not shoot any bear unless there is an immediate threat.
It is against the law to shoot any bear unless there is a threat to your safety or the safety of others,” said the sheriff’s office.