Earlier this summer, a young woman in Montana faced off with a bear ... and won ... while riding a horse.
Erin Bolster, of Swan Mountain Outfitters, was leading a group of eight on horseback through Flathead National Forest when they received an unexpected visit from a grizzly bear, reports The Spokesman-Review.
Bolster and her clients were in the midst of an hour-long trail ride when a large bear ran out of the woods chasing a deer. Predictably, most of the horses turned and bolted, except for the horse of an eight-year-old boy who was riding for the first time.
With the bear chasing the boy and his horse, Bolster did the only thing she could think of -- charge the bear. The quick-thinking 25-year-old told The Spokesman-Review, “I had no hesitation, honestly. Nothing in my body was going to let that little boy get hurt by that bear. That wasn’t an option.”
After standing off with the bear several times, it finally backed down. Bolster and her horse "had to go at the bear a third time before we finally hazed him away,” she explained.
Bolster said the event gave her a strong appreciation for the horse she was riding, Tonk. She said, "Some of the horses I've ridden would have absolutely refused to do what Tonk did; others would have thrown me off in the process. Some horses can never overcome their flight-animal instinct to run away," according to the Missoulian.
Bolster, a Virginia native, told The Roanoke Times she's accepting the fact that she's a heroine. "I definitely felt like I saved the boy," she said. "If no one had been there except him and that bear and the horse, it would not have gone well."
Others who have had encounters with bears haven't been as lucky. A 65-year-old hunter was recently mauled by a grizzly in Alaska, but survived the attack.
A man hiking with his wife in Montana was fatally mauled in Yellowstone in July. Sadly, officials "concluded the couple's screaming and running possibly triggered the mauling."
A hunter on the Idaho-Montana border was recently killed by a 400-pound male grizzly bear after he and his hunting partner shot it.
The number of human-bear encounters in recent months has sparked debate over bear hunting and humans intruding on bear habitats.