Biologist Steven Krichbaum is lucky to be alive after fighting for his life when a bear attacked him in the West Virginian wilderness late last week - but now he's hoping to save the life of the animal that mauled him.
Krichbaum was conducting research deep in the George Washington National Forest when his dog Henry spotted a pair of bear cubs and chased them away. This prompted the cubs' mother to rush toward Krichbaum in defense of her offspring. The researcher was bitten on his arm and legs before Henry returned to draw her attention away. The dog was bitten too in the ensuing scuffle.
Once back on his feet, Krichbaum was able to drive the bear away by hitting it in the head with a rock, though he was careful not to do any serious damage.
"I didn't want to kill her," Krichbaum told the Northern Virginia Daily. "I wanted her to go away and stop biting me."
Despite their injuries, Krichbaum and his dog were able to walk out of the forest on their own and call an ambulance. Both were treated and are expected to make a full recovery.
When West Virginia Department of Natural Resources officials got word of the bear attack, they announced that they planned to trap the animal and her cubs to euthanize them, citing a policy to put down "any bear that makes contact with humans." Plans to kill the bear family quickly sparked protests among people who saw the attack as a natural defense response - including the victim himself.
Krichbaum says that he is "appalled" by the DNR's decision, adding that he would sign an online petition urging officials spare the animals' lives.
"I'm totally opposed to that," he says, adding that people should be aware of the risks when venturing into regions where bears live. "I don't want to live in Disneyland. If you want to live in Disneyland, stay home."
It appears that backlash from Krichbaum and others are being heard; on Monday, wildlife officials said they planned to remove the traps that had been laid out to capture the bears.