KODIAK, Alaska - A Kodiak man managed to survive an encounter with a mother bear and her cubs by playing dead.
The man was walking a friend's dog in the area between Swampy Acres and Lake Catherine on Tuesday afternoon when he stumbled upon a sow and two cubs 20 feet ahead of him, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported (http://bit.ly/TkrfQT ).
"It sounded like initially the bear started going the other direction, but the dog decided it wanted to sniff the cubs, and the mama bear didn't think that was something that she wanted to happen," said Larry Van Daele, regional wildlife supervisor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
When the dog ran back to the man, the bear ran after the dog. As soon as the man saw the bear, he rolled up in a ball and played dead.
The man was not identified.
The bear reportedly grabbed the man's foot and pulled him a little bit, then checked on her cubs. When she came ba ck to the man, she sniffed his head, bit his foot and ran off. The dog was on scene and barking the whole time, Van Daele said.
Van Daele said this was a worst-case scenario because the bears were likely unaware there were people around.
"It was a surprise because the wind was blowing so neither knew the other was there," he said. "From the description I heard, the bear had started to go the other way and would have gone off."
Van Daele said the bear has not been marked for death because it was an accidental encounter.
"We all feel this was a surprise encounter and the bear acted defensively," Van Daele said. "If she would have charged him aggressively and if it had been a more severe mauling, then we would consider it one that crossed the line. All things considered it sounds like she did the right thing and he did the right thing, and they lived to tell about it."
Signs have been posted around the area warning people of the attack. Van Daele said the bear and her cubs should be heading to their den for winter soon, but there is still a chance she could be around the area.