() — An Arizona man was fatally mauled by a black bear that attacked him without provocation while drinking his morning coffee Friday.
Steven Jackson, 66, died during the attack and the bear was killed by a neighbor who was trying to save his life, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.
“Based on multiple witness accounts and preliminary scene investigation, Mr. Jackson had been sitting drinking coffee at a table on his property where he was building a home,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post, and He added that it was remote and largely a heavily wooded area.
“It appears that a male black bear attacked Mr. Jackson, taking him by surprise and dragging him approximately 75 feet (22 meters) down an embankment.”
Neighbors heard Jackson screaming and tried to help him “through yelling and car horns,” but the bear would not let go until a neighbor fired at it with his rifle, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“Unfortunately, at that time Mr. Jackson succumbed to his horrific injuries,” they added.
“It appears this was a predatory attack,” said John Trierweiler, public information officer for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
This type of attack is “very rare and unusual; there being only one other known fatal attack of this type since the mid-1980s,” the Sheriff’s Office said. Fatal bear attacks overall are extremely rare, averaging one per year in the US, according to the North American Bear Center.
“At first glance, there did not appear to be anything at the site that would have precipitated the bear attack, such as food, a place to cook or access to water,” they added.
Trierweiler further explained that the incident did not appear to have involved a female bear protecting her cubs, but law enforcement officials are still investigating what occurred.
Black bears are the only bears found in Arizona, according to the US Forest Service, which says they generally avoid people.
“We have no other reports that the public may be in danger. Do not shoot any bear unless there is an immediate threat. It is against the law to shoot any bear unless there is a threat to your safety or the safety of others. others,” the Sheriff’s Office said.