Asleep in the mountains northwest of Boulder, Colo., a teenage camp counselor was awakened Sunday morning by a loud crunching sound.
The noise was the sound of large teeth scraping against his skull, he told Denver ABC-affiliate KMGH. A black bear, the teen realized, was trying to pull him out of his sleeping bag by his head.
“It grabbed me like this and pulled me, and then it bit the back of my head and dragged me,” the teen, identified only by his first name, Dylan, told KMGH. “When it was dragging me, that was the slowest part. It felt like it went forever.”
Fellow staffers and campers were roused by the commotion and tried to scare the bear away as Dylan fought back. The bear dragged Dylan about 10 feet, then dropped him and walked away.
Dylan was taken to the hospital. His injuries weren’t life threatening. Authorities are searching for the bear, which will likely be euthanized, according to the Associated Press.
The teen is a counselor at Glacier View Ranch, a camp owned by the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, the AP reported. According to the camp’s website, the conference hosts seven weeks of summer camps for youth ages 7 to 18. The camps feature zip lines, go-carts and canoeing, “all in a safe, Christ-centered atmosphere.”
The ranch confirmed the attack on its website, and said it would not cancel the rest of the summer’s camps. About 100 children and teens are expected to attend.
Campers that Dylan was supervising over the weekend had asked if they could spend the night under the stars, sleeping by the camp’s lake. Dylan relented.
He told reporters he teaches wilderness survival at the camp.
How fortuitous. One of the tips experts recommend for surviving a bear attack is to fight back.
Dylan’s experience follows other troubling reports of bear attacks, including two fatal maulings in Alaska a day apart last month.
On June 18, Patrick “Jack” Cooper, a 16-year-old from Anchorage, was killed by a bear after he veered off a trail during a mountain foot race south of the city, according to the AP. A day later, Erin Johns, a 27-year-old contract worker for Pogo Mine died in a mauling 275 miles northeast of Anchorage. Her 38-year-old co-worker was also injured.
Authorities told the AP they were baffled by the uptick in bear attacks, although the numbers can fluctuate from year to year. Dylan said his experience hasn’t changed his attitude toward bears. In fact, he was back at camp — sporting fresh scars — when he talked to reporters.
“I’m not afraid of the bears. I’m not afraid of sleeping outside anymore. You just have to be aware and respect the animals,” Dylan said.