Woman Stabs Bear on the Northville-Placid Trail

The Three Bears Do the Adirondacks

Not a Golden Book Story

Adirondack Black Bears at Marcy Dam

Legendary Adirondack Black Bear, the late Yellow-yellow, caught on a trail camera foraging at Marcy Dam in the Adirondacks.

According to the resident biologist and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Wildlife Biologist, three bears in the Blue Mountain Lake region of the Adirondacks have exhibited unusual behavior for black bears.

According to Ed, a female hiker on the Northville-Placid Trail was followed by three medium-size bears. They were not Pappa Bear, Momma Bear, and Baby, but probably Momma Bear and two Baby Bears. Despite the hiker’s appropriate attempts to scare the bears away and dissuade them from following her, the bears were unfazed and persisted in tagging along for her hike. When one of the bears approached to within a few feet, the hiker felt threatened and stabbed the bear in the head or neck with her pocket knife. The bears took off and so did the hiker, fortunately in opposite directions. She ran 3 miles to a DEC campground and arrived exhausted but unhurt.

Black bears are normally afraid of people according to Ed. But if they are habituated to human food, they equate people with food, and black bears live to eat. This still doesn’t completely explain the unusual behavior of these three bears, and Ed says it is a mystery they are trying to solve.

People should be aware these three, unusually aggressive bears are still at large if hiking in the area around the Northville-Placid Trail.  If you encounter a bear, make noise, wave your arms, try to look big, (the resident biologist actually said this to me - I’m 5″2), make sure the bear knows you are human, and back away slowly. Do not try to outrun a bear. You can’t.

I spend a great deal of time in the woods and will certainly be watching my back. Please do the same.


  1. Dave

    Good advice — Don’t try to outrun a bear! Bears run a lot faster than you may think!

  2. Wes

    It’s maybe not a great idea to refer to animals as ‘thugs’ as this maps a whole range of human characteristics and expectations onto what is intrinsically “bear” behaviour that has been modified by human interactions.

  3. Joann

    Point taken. I know this. Thank you.
    But, this is my blog and I am just trying to have a little fun telling a story. I am cautioned constantly about my fondness for anthropomorphization by the in-house expert. It is all in the interest of literary fun. (Using a very liberal definition of “literary.”)

  4. amy stearns

    Thanks for the heads up… Love the thug term… it’s lightens up the article with a little fun. keeping an extra eye out for the thugs and remember to bear bag food, garbage and other toiletries ! happy trails:-)

  5. Sarah H. Gordon

    My stepfather Herb Pollock used to take a group of us to the dump at sundown, when the bears came out to look for something to eat! This was near Upper Saranac Lake. My mother thought he might look for something better to do than go to the dump at sundown. The bears did come by, however, and we watched them from about 20 to 30 feet above them.

  6. Dan

    I agree that the word thugs is not am appropriate word. We enter the woods as visitors. The Bears own them and should be respected. Yes watch your back but remember we are visitors in the domain that they live in.

  7. Joann

    As a member of a native species to this earth, I have just as much right to be in the woods as bears. I try, and I think we should do our best to live in harmony with all creatures. Of course, that includes not feeding said wild creatures, keeping track of our own food, and using humor to tell a story.
    I just wish the bears would lighten up! Oh wait, I haven’t heard from a single bear offended by my use of the word ‘thugs.’
    I guess it’s the humans who need to lighten up.

    And by the way, you are welcome for going out of my way to give humans a time sensitive warning and some tips about hiking the NPT safely.

  8. John Henry

    The poor bear! what was the woman doing in his native area? I think we should close off the area and leave the bears alone. Look at the damage humans do with hiking paths and putting up those non biodegradable trail markers. We do not live in the woods bears do. I think they crap there also or was that the pope?

  9. Rick

    I cannot believe the nit-picking negative comments. Now we have to be “politically correct” in how we describe bears? How about we go with “Large non-human indigenous woods-dwelling mammal” and consider every other term offensive? After all, calling someone “a real bear” has negative connotations.
    Thank you, Joann, for the information, and for writing in an engaging manner.
    Now I have *two* threats to consider on my upcoming NPT hike: Agressive bears, and forest PC police looking to tag me for “hate speech” against the animals. Sheesh.

  10. Joann

    Thank you.

    As for two threats on the NPT, I suggest you disregard the second and get some bear spray for the first threat. Thanks to my good friend Dave for that simple reminder.

    Happy hiking!

  11. Diane

    The bears don’t “own” the woods! As humans, we have every right to enjoy the woods just as much as bears and all the other wildlife. We need to be careful and respectful because bears are stronger and faster than us and it is their natural habitat. Do you think all humans should live in a city and never leave? That’s how stupid you sound. We have to SHARE the woods!! As far as that woman goes, who happens to be my niece, she was hiking, enjoying the land that God gave to all of us, and minding her own business. The bear was ready to kill her and she fought back. That’s nature at it’s finest…survival of the fittest.

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