CT Bear Numbers Surge, Survivalist Doctor Shares Life Saving Tips
Connecticut has seen a massive spike in bear encounters over the past 10 years.
DEEP reported 67 bears broke into CT homes in 2022 versus 45 in 2021 and just 7 in 2015. Everyday, Connecticut social media is flooded with pictures and videos of bears in close proximity to humans so we need to be prepared.
We've talked a lot with our wildlife expert Jen "The Zookeeper" Kotkin about how to reduce bear interactions but we wanted to add another layer of expertise and speak to a doctor so we contacted Dr. Joseph Alton.
Joseph Alton, M.D. is a premiere Medical Preparedness Professional from the top survival website doomandbloom.net. Alton practiced as a board-certified Obstetrician and Pelvic Surgeon for more than 25 years before retiring to devote his efforts to preparing your family medically for any scenario.
We spoke with Dr. Alton about a variety of survival topics but spent most of our time on black bears.
What do we do if we encounter a bear?
"A black bear attack is one is which you're going to want to actually fight back. Now, they say to play dead with a Grizzly bear but a black bear is something where you can discourage them by showing them aggression yourself. They want you to yell and make yourself seem as large as possible. If you're in a group, you want the group to huddle or stick together so you're making a big appearance. Make yourself look as large as possible and if you can do that, then you have the best chance."
What can we do to prepare ahead of time, before an encounter?
"The best chance is to carry around some bear spray. If you have spray make sure you start spraying, if the bear is actually approaching you when it's about 25-30 feet away. They are very fast black bears and believe me they can climb tress so unless you're a squirrel you're definitely not going to be able to out-climb a bear. So, you want to spray them as soon as possible once they hit that range of 25-30 feet away, you want to start with that. Be aware that there is some force to this thing so when you press the button it's going to push the spray upward so you have to hold it down so you get it right in the bear's face."
What happens if you are attacked by a bear? You are injured but alive?
"Your priority is going to be to stop whatever hemorrhaging happens to be occurring in the wounds that have been incurred. So, you want to expose the wound if it's possible, if it's something very very heavy don't wait to cut away the clothing just go ahead and apply firm direct pressure with one hand over the other and your full body weight over that to give as much pressure to the bleeding area as possible. If you have dressings or even a t-shirt use it between your hands and the wound as a barrier. Employee the tourniquet if you have one in your medial kit, by the way if you're off in an area where there are bears you should probably always have a medical kit with you, If you have one in the house or it happens to go onto your property so you can get that quickly if you need to. By the way, if the bleeding is heavy, putting a tourniquet on is the first course of action for any serious bleed. You should place it as high and tight on the extremity as you possibly can that means as close to the torso as possible. Of course, if you're bleeding that bad you're going to be in shock so you're going to lose body heat quickly, you want to cover them up and if the bleeding is from an extremity you want to elevate it above the level of the heart. Make it difficult for the heart to pump blood out of the body. Once the bleeding is under some control you want to apply a pressure dressing."
The same day we spoke with Dr. Alton we received the video below from a listener called "Der" from Newtown. They sent us this video using the I-95 Rock Mobile app.
You can listen to our entire interview with Dr. Alton below. We also discussed what to do with a shark encounter and the importance of "go-bags" in a natural disaster.
OF NOTE: Dr. Alton became noticeably distracted during the early part of our interview and I could tell this was not something insignificant. After doing this for as many years I can tell when a family member walks in the room or a dog jumps in someone's lap and this was not that.
I followed up with the Doc after the interview to make sure everyone was OK and learned he was having roof work done at his home when one of the workers was injured by a falling tile on the ground. The worker was cared for by Dr. Alton's wife who is a nurse practitioner and then taken away in an ambulance with minor injuries. It sounds like everyone will be OK. Live radio is an amazing, wonderful and sometimes messy thing, just like life.
For more survival techniques check out Dr. Alton's book:“The Survival Medicine Handbook: A guide for when help is NOT on the way.”