67-year-old California man fights off black bear attack, drives himself to the hospital



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FRESNO, California — A 67-year-old man fought off a black bear that attacked him on his porch Thursday as the state sees an uptick in encounters, likely a result of California's relentless drought that's sending bears into populated areas to forage for food, officials said.

The man, who stepped outside in the pre-dawn hours, probably startled the bear feeding on bags of trash about 20 feet from the man's door, said Lt. Chris Stoots of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The man lives in Midpines, a foothill community west of Yosemite National Park.

"Anyplace you have a lure for a bear, you're going to likely have a bear," Stoots said.

After standing on his porch for a few minutes, Stoots said, the bear attacked the man from behind, knocking him down. The man, whose name was not released, struggled to fight off the bear and returned inside his house before driving himself to a hospital.

He was bitten and scratched on his arms, legs and stomach, but able to talk with investigators, Stoots said.

Such attacks are rare, but he said that black bear encounters statewide are on the rise, likely because of drought. He said black bears are increasingly roaming into cities and urban areas in search of food and water.

Investigators found bags of trash ripped open near the man's door, he said.

A search continues for the bear, which will likely be euthanized due to the significance and persistence of the attack, Stoots said. The Mariposa County Sheriff's Office is warning residents to watch their children and pets, and dial 911 if they encounter a bear.

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