U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- The bear who attacked the Bates family was a sow about 20 years old, estimated at 350 lbs. It was starving, with nothing in the stomach but parasites.
The attack occurred as the Bates family, Weatherly Bates, her husband, their 12-year-old son, Rockwell, their 10-year-old daughter Vera, and two family dogs, on leashes, were hiking on the Glacier Moraine Trail in Kachemak Bay State park.
Weatherly Bates had a .40 caliber S&W in her backpack. The bear came at them at about 3 p.m., even though they yelled at it and bunched together.
Weatherly Bates explains what happened:
“It did attack. It was a predatory bear That year we had a lot of problems. The bears were starving. There was, like, no berries. We were hiking and we noticed there was a bear spray cap on the ground. A couple of minutes later a bear came up behind us. I tried to yell and scare it away, but it kept coming. I did have a gun in my backpack, so I started backing up to my husband.”
Weatherly’s husband accessed the pistol from her backpack. Weatherly continues:
“I could tell this bear wasn’t stopping. Our dog got in between the bear and our son. She didn’t even bark at it. It tackled her and started biting her head. We let our other dog go, he was on a leash. He started biting the bear. We think that is what saved our female German Shepard.
My husband had to grab the bear and get it so he could dispatch it without shooting our dog. He shot it point blank in the spine. It took two shots before it let go. Then he shot it about five more times.”
Weatherly said about two weeks previously, a biologist had been waking in the park with her dogs. She had pepper sprayed the bear at that time.
Weatherly said: “When we put it down, it smelled like heavy pepper spray. ”
Weatherly said it was the same bear that attacked them. Its head was down, its eyes locked on them.
The bear was a 20-year-old sow full of parasites. She was starving and had worn teeth.
Weatherly said the attack happened fairly quickly. The bear came on at a brisk walk, not a charge. Her husband bruised his shins as he fought with the bear to move it, so he could shoot without endangering their dog, Sally.
Her son, 12-year-old Rockwell Bates, had a .22 rifle for hunting spruce grouse. The bear was killed before Rockwell could bring the rifle into play, which would have required a precise shot.
This shows another advantage of a handgun for defense; it is easy to maneuver in close quarters with one hand. The pistol used in this case was a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson model SW40F, loaded with Federal hollowpoint ammunition.
Weatherly believes if they had holstered pistols when the attack occurred, they could have prevented the damage to their dog.
Weatherly says the family does a lot of hiking. They now carry 12 gauge shotguns and pistols in chest holsters. Weatherly now carries a Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol in a chest holster.
The bear was reported to the authorities and a Defense of Life and Property (DLP) form was filled out. The Bates family obtained the help of friends to remove the bear from the park.
Weatherly believed the bear was desperate for food. She said dozens of bears had come into Halibut Cove searching for food because of the failed berry crop, and wildfires, in 2020. She reported many other bears were shot and killed in their community.
Sally, the German Shepherd, had puncture wounds and had to get massive amounts of antibiotics, but she recovered.
Weatherly was kind enough to give this correspondent leads on another couple of bear attacks in the area, which were stopped with pistol fire.
It remains to be seen if those attacks can be documented.
The attack on was also covered by kbbi.org as reported on October 15, 2020.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.