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Wounded Grizzly Attacks Hudson’s Bay Trapper

Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians are growing accustomed to wolves once again roaming the mountains. Grizzly bears might be next, some conservationists say.

Many North American brown bear grizzlies prowled the woods in 1826 when Hudson’s Bay Chief Trader Alexander McLeod trapped beaver pelts along the Pacific Coast and inland toward the Umpqua and Rogue valleys and the Siskiyou Trail leading to California. His Umpqua Brigade included French Canadians, Indians, and famed Scotch botanist David Douglas.

A wounded grizzly attacked one of McLeod’s trappers on Oct. 8 in Southern Oregon.

History writer Richard Dillon writes, “The beast was but a few yards distant … (Kennedy) … fired, point-blank … The grizzly shook off the shock of impact … and charged. Kennedy had time to climb up a small oak, but the bear caught him with one paw under the right arm and the left on his back … His blanket, coat and trousers were shredded from his body and torn to pieces by the angry monster.”  The trapper escaped serious injury.

Wolves weigh between 40 and 175 pounds; bears between 290 and 790 pounds, although 1,500-pound males have been recorded.

That would liven up the woods!

Source: Dillon, Richard. “Siskiyou Trail: The Hudson’s Bay Fur Company Route to California.” McGraw-Hill  Book Company. New York: 1975. P. 127-141. Print

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.