Man meets mama, baby bears on Ashland bike trail

Ashland's lush mountains in view from the Lithia Park Trail. (Sammy Shaktah/ News 10)

The summer months not only mark the travel season for people, but for wild animals as well.

Black bears are commonly spotted during this time of year in southern Oregon, as they come out of their winter hibernation.

Walker Kermode, an Ashland resident who enjoys mountain biking in the area, came upon a huge surprise on July 4th as he was taking a ride down one of his favorite trails: bears. Specifically, a mama bear and her cubs.

"I was mountain biking down a trail called Jabberwocky - which is a really good trail up here in the watershed - and I came around the corner and I heard a big rustle in the bushes and this huge bear jumped out like 15 feet in front of me. It landed on the trail and I heard it grunt. There was probably about 15-20 feet between me and it but I was going 15 to 20 miles per hour so it was all happening really fast," Kermode said.

Luckily, both he and the bears were unharmed from the unexpected encounter. He was able to stop his bike at a safe distance. Walker backed away slowly with his bike, and was able to peacefully part ways with the family of bears.

In fact, backing away is one of the tips that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, Sam Dogenhoff, said to do in these situations.

"Give them lots of space, make lots of noise, back away slowly if you think you're in a situation where you might be stressing the animal. And always make sure they have a route to escape the situation," Dodenhoff said.

He mentioned that areas that have water can be a common area for these bears to be seen in the summertime. Ashland's Lithia Park is a good example of where they have been spotted in the past.

Dodenhoff said keeping small children nearby when encountering a bear is important.

Also, keeping an airhorn on you, and bear spray, can come in handy if an unexpected encounter with a bear gets a little close for comfort.

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