Bill Palas in the hospital with his injuries
Photos Courtesy of Bill Palas

Jogger Barely Escapes Attack by a Mama Bear Protecting Her Cub

Bill Palas is lucky to believe alive after blood "gushing from everywhere" and spending three hours in surgery.

Despite immediately altering his course when he encountered a bear cub on a run, a North Carolina jogger came face to face with a very protective mama bear and barely escaped a serious mauling. On July 7, Asheville resident Bill Palas was running along the trails in Pisgah National Forest when he was attacked, according to WLOS.

Palas is a frequent runner on the forest trails, hitting them two to three times a week. And Palas' yard backs up to the national forest, allowing him to see wildlife often. So he knows what to expect in the area and has never had a problem with the local wildlife until his run on the morning of July 7.

He rounded a corner and found a little cub sitting alone in the middle of the trail. Neither expected to see the other, and the spooked cub ran up the hill to escape. "When you see a cub like that, there's usually a mom around," Palas told WLOS. "So, I go, and I turn around real quick, and all of a sudden, there I see the mama bear."

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He immediately waved his hands and yelled as the mama bear charged. For a second, it looked as if his maneuvers would deter the bear, as she changed course and moved away from Palas and down a hill.

Palas thought he had avoided a confrontation with the bear until she realized he was between her and her cub. With that realization, she attacked.

Bill Palas after being stitched up

Courtesy of Bill Palas

"She stands up on her back legs, and here's this head, her head must have been the size of a basketball, and it's right here," Palas recounted. "She takes her claw, and she rakes it across my face and chest." Her claws felt like razors slicing across his skin.

In an attempt to land a punch on the bear's face, Palas' arm found her mouth instead. She knocked him down on his back, where he lay wondering what she would do next.

Palas told WLOS he thought they would have a battle. However, the mama bear just wanted to get back to her little cub. Palas took the opportunity to get away from the bear.

"I was running on adrenaline and shock," Palas said. "I got 20 yards or so down the steep hill, and I surveyed myself. You know, how bad am I? All I know is blood is just gushing out of everywhere."

He focused his energy on getting home, where his wife rushed him to the hospital. Palas said it took three hours to sew him up, and the hospital brought in a "special facial plastic surgeon."

"I just feel so lucky that I'm together. I mean, seeing these 3-inch razor claws, I could see them this close to my face. Man, it's just surreal," he continued. Thankfully, Palas didn't suffer any permanent damage.

While a close call like this may be grounds for caution, Palas said he isn't going to let it stop him from hitting the trails. "It's kind of like lightning rarely strikes someone—but it struck me this time," he said.

Now, he wears the attack like a wilderness badge of honor. "I definitely have some wilderness street cred now 'cause how many people do you know that's been attacked by a bear?"

READ MORE: Fatal Black Bear Attacks in North America Over the Last 20 Years