A 66-year-old Arizona man was fatally mauled by a black bear in an unprovoked and “highly uncommon” attack Friday morning, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release about the incident.
The “predatory” attack took place early Friday morning when the victim, Steven Jackson, was drinking coffee at a table on his property where he was building a home. Authorities said there did not seem to be anything on the site that would have attracted the bear or caused an attack, such as food, a cooking site or access to water.
“It appears that a male black bear attacked Mr. Jackson, taking him unaware, and dragged him approximately 75 feet down an embankment,” the statement said.
After hearing the victim’s screams, neighbors and witnesses attempted to distract the bear by honking car horns and shouting, but it would not let go of Jackson until one neighbor shot the animal with a rifle, the statement describes.
However, by the time the bear let go, authorities said Jackson had already succumbed to his “horrible injuries.”
According to YCSO and Arizona Game and Fish, this attack was very unusual and only the second known fatal bear attack since the mid-1980s.
The bear, which was killed, is no longer a threat to the public, but officials have warned campers and visitors to the area to take precautions such as locking up food in a vehicle and not leaving out items like toothpaste, which can attract the animal to a campsite.
YCSO said it will be doing further investigations into Jackson’s death, while Arizona Game and Fish will continue investigating the cause of the attack, which officials believe may have just been a predatory response by the bear.
Both institutions also reminded people not to shoot bears unless they pose an imminent threat to themselves or someone else.