Bear attacks man near Mount Emily Recreation Area in La Grande

LA GRANDE, Ore. (KGW) — A man is recovering after he was injured by a bear while going out to search for it in the Mount Emily Recreation Area near La Grande Wednesday morning.

The man, Craig Lankford of La Grande, had shot a bear on Tuesday evening after he caught it harassing his chickens, according to a news release from the Union County Sheriff’s Office. He went to search for the bear Wednesday morning.

Lankford encountered the bear near his property on Owsley Canyon Road, where he shot it once more. Soon afterward, the bear attacked Lankford, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies were notified about the attack just after 7:30 a.m. They immediately closed roads and the neighboring Mount Emily Recreation Area, due to the fact that the bear was injured and wounded bears can be dangerous.

Along with the Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, deputies made a plan to search for the bear.

At 10:44 a.m., with the help from USDA Wildlife Services, officials spotted a bear that matched Lankford’s description near the area of the attack and euthanized it.

Lankford sustained injuries to his arms and head, deputies said. He was taken to a nearby hospital for medical care and is expected to recover.

“We are grateful Mr. Lankford survived this encounter and wish him a smooth and speedy recovery,” said ODFW Watershed Manager Jeff Yanke.

A necropsy on the bear was later performed. Gunshot wounds found were consistent with Lankford’s report, confirming that the bear taken was the same one involved in the attack.

There are an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 bears across Oregon. Officials with ODFW said there have only been three reported incidents where wounded bears attacked hunters who shot but failed to kill them. None of them were fatal.

ODFW said bear attacks are rare but do tend to occur when bears are wounded, are fed by people and lose their natural wariness, or are surprised by people or their dogs. There have been no fatal bear attacks recorded in Oregon.

In recent weeks multiple black bear sightings were reported in and near Forest Park. ODFW said there have only been five reported black bear sightings in the city of Portland, Forest Park included, in the last three years. Four of those five happened this month.

Portland Parks & Recreation put up warning signs in Forest Park to remind people who encounter bears not to run, avoid eye contact, appear large and make a lot of noise.

© 2024 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

Skip to content