Bear Attack in Douthat State Park


On Sunday, September 17th, a woman was attacked by a bear in Douthat State Park. Allegheny Mountain Radio spoke with Jim Meisner, Jr., a spokesperson for Virginia State Parks, to get the latest update. He says, “A woman was was walking on a trail with her two dogs when she was attacked by a bear. She was wounded in both legs. She was able to walk out of the trail unassisted and was able to find park staff who assisted her and called an ambulance, and she was transported to the hospital. As of Tuesday, she is still hospitalized, but is expected to make a full recovery.”

He continues by explaining what actions the park is taking in response to this incident. Mr. Meisner, Jr. explains, “Park staff working with a game warden from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries have deployed bear traps. They’ve baited the traps with donuts and ham, and the traps are on either end of the trail where this occurred, and we have closed all of the trails in the entire park. More than 40 miles of trails have been closed. Later on Tuesday, we will install cameras on the trail to record, hopefully, bear activities to ensure that there are bears there that we can hopefully trap, and we’ll be working with the scientists from Game and Inland Fisheries to ensure that we capture the right bear.

“There is no kill order in place. We have not been given permission to kill a bear by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, so we have no intention of killing the bear at this time. We just hope to trap the bear to compare the DNA samples that were taken off of the victim, and after that, we’ll assess the situation and move forward.

“Douthat State Park remains open. Our cabins, our campsites, the lake. People are still here at the park, and they come to nature to enjoy nature, and bears are part of nature. We’ve got campers and people in the campsites right now, so it’s business as usual, except for our trails remain closed through the week.”

Some tips are also provided in case a person sees a bear in the wild in the future. Mr. Meisner, Jr. continues, “If a visitor to a park encounters a bear, it’s important that they not panic, don’t run, to ensure that they keep their children close to them. A bear doesn’t want to interact with people any more than people want to interact with a bear. It’s important that people make their presence known. Get loud. Slowly back away from the bear, and the bears generally, usually just go on about their business. An attack in a state park by a bear is exceptionally rare. It almost never happens.”


Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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