RATON, N.M. (KRQE) — A New Mexico man is sharing his story of survival after he was attacked by a bear while walking his dogs.
He killed the bear while its jaw was clamped around his leg, and the jaw stayed that way for a while.
From making their way through Angel Fire Resort to dumpster diving in Ruidoso, bear sightings and encounters across the state are pretty common. But one Raton man had a very uncommon encounter with a bear back a couple weeks ago.
“I got way too close, the bear was overly aggressive,” said Bridger Petrini.
Petrini is a rancher and a big-game hunter. Last month, he was exercising his hunting dogs near his home just outside the small city of Raton.
“When he saw me, he pinned his ears down and immediately made a big charge at me,” said Petrini.
That’s when the struggle began.
“Down the hill, we went again rolling and he had bit me a time or two but he was never able to get on my upper body, so my legs took most of it,” said Petrini.
Petrini says he was armed with a pistol and shot the bear as he was being mauled.
“Somehow or another, he had bitten down on my calf muscle it had basically twisted it over his bottom jaw so he died with his teeth locked and so I wasn’t able to get away from him,” Petrini said.
Raton Fire Department, along with Game and Fish, responded to the scene, but moving the nearly 400-pound animal proved challenging so they eventually sawed the bear’s head off, leaving it attached to Petrini’s leg.
“When they cut the bear’s head off then they were able to maneuver to where the could get it off my leg,” Petrini said.
He was flown to UNM Hospital where they deal with injuries from bear attacks from time to time.
“Bears are huge so you can see all kinds of different injuries from bites to scratch marks from the claws to blunt force trauma,” said Steve Mclaughlin.
But they had never heard a story like this.
“I’ve never seen this before this is extremely unusual,” Mclaughlin said.
Petrini says he spent a week in the hospital. He got more than 200 stitches and suffered extensive nerve and tissue damage in his right leg.