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Bear that attacked Ky. hiker eludes capture; scenic area closed

Associated Press / June 30, 2010

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — A black bear that mauled a hiker eluded traps yesterday and a scenic area in the Daniel Boone National Forest remained closed to the public following the rare attack by an Appalachian bear on a human.

Wildlife officers hadn’t been able to find the animal that attacked, bit, and shook Tim Scott of Springfield on Sunday in a remote area near Stanton in eastern Kentucky, said Barbara Atwood, state tourism spokeswoman.

“They had a bear sighting yesterday; however, they could not confirm that it was the bear in question,’’ Atwood said. “But they feel confident the bear is still in the area.’’

Scott, 56, was released from a Lexington hospital Monday and spoke with reporters.

Scott said he was hiking in Red River Gorge Geological Area ahead of his wife and son when he spotted the bear about 25 feet away. He said it appeared to be about 150 pounds, and he took photos with his cellphone until the bear disappeared under a ledge. Scott said he was about to call his wife to tell her to take another trail when the bear reappeared.

Scott said he yelled and dropped his belt bag, hoping to distract the animal. The bear just sniffed the bag and continued approaching Scott, who grabbed a rotted branch and hit the bear.

It “lunged forward and grabbed me a bit, but let go,’’ he said.

Scott tried to move behind a tree for protection a couple of times, but he said the bear grabbed him by the leg and threw him. Then it sank its teeth into his thigh and shook him.

Anthony Gobel of Fowler, Ind., was among a small group of hikers who rescued Scott.

“I’m a 200-pound man, and he was definitely twice my size,’’ Gobel, a 28-year-old service technician who climbs wind turbines for a living, said of the bear. “His head was bigger than a basketball.’’

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