Run-ins with wild bears saw four visitors to the West's iconic Yellowstone National Park injured this week, although there were no fatalities.
On Thursday morning, a grizzly bear charged a group of four hikers in Yellowstone, after they encountered a young grizzly bear — accompanied by its irate mother, writes the Associated Press.
Two of the party suffered injuries from the harrowing incident, including one victim with scratch and claw wounds. The hikers were luckily able to drive off both bears with a few hits of bear spray.
“They were following all the directions that we encourage people to do when they’re in the back country, which is hike in groups, carry pepper spray and make noise on the trail,” said Yellowstone spokesman Dan Hottle to ABC. “Unfortunately, a mother with cubs in the park is the most dangerous animal we have.”
In Thursday's second bear-attack incident, two private contractors engaged in habitat assessment work unknowingly came upon a sleeping bear, waking up the animal and causing it to charge, reports ABC News.
One man was bitten in the thigh and backside, while the other experience wounds to his hands as he attempted to ward off the bear with bear spray. Both suffered considerable injuries, but are expected to make full recoveries.
According to the National Park Service, Yellowstone experience an average of one bear attack a year, while 2011 saw two visitors killed in separate incidents as they visited the park.
Grizzly bears are a subspecies of the common brown bear, and have become rare in much of the continental US, although a healthy population resides within Yellowstone.
Weighing up to 800 pounds and measuring as much as eight feet in height, they make formidable foes for unwitting hikers.