Mammalwatching Podcast: Rob Foster recounts his (many) black bear attacks

Serious attacks by black bears in North America are reportedly very rare. For some reason that statistic doesn’t seem to apply to our next guest on the podcast, Dr Rob Foster, who has been attacked numerous times while working out in the Northwoods of Canada. In this podcast he describes how he spent 45 minutes fighting off a Black bear that was very intent on eating him with only a can of bear spray and a pocket-knife for protection. And if that wasn’t enough, he had another bear attack him on the anniversary of his first attack! I suspect after listening to Rob’s stories, most mammalwatchers will start carrying a very large can of bear spray when walking in the woods looking for mammals.

You can watch the YouTube trailer here

The full mammalwatching podcast is up on most podcast platforms or you can listen to it at


  • Warren Gilson

    Charles’ and Jon’s comments about counting thermal scope sightings and personal decisions helped gel in my mind what I think of as a related issue : how much of a glimpse do I count as a sighting? If I have time to identify a mammal species then I am happy, if I have time to observe its behavior for a time then I’m thrilled and if I walk away with photographic evidence I am ecstatic. A fleeting glimpse will probably not do it for me. I hope that I’m strong willed enough to keep to that statement when/if an extremely rare species that I’ve tramped for hours/days to see is only glimpsed 🙂

  • Warren Gilson

    .. and I wont be letting my wife listen to this particular episode or I may never see the inside of a forest again

  • Charles Foley

    I agree that nothing is worse than a fleeting glimpse. Or actually, the worst is probably a glimpse so fleeting that you can’t actually definitively identify the animal, which precludes you from even having the moral debate as to whether you would have counted it or not! My only ever Jaguarundi sighting was in the first category – a dark cat running across the road some distance ahead of the car. I clearly lack your fortitude when it comes to not counting a record, but that’s definitely in the ‘species I want to see again’ category.

    • Warren Gilson

      I guess moral fortitude only comes into play when faced with real temptation. I didn’t count the mongoose I glimpsed when driving in Hawaii but that was an easier decision given it was an introduced species. The somewhat bandicoot-y animal i saw as I left a National park cold and tired here in Australia I could disregard hoping I’d see it next time (I haven’t )

  • Charles Foley

    Perhaps the most unsatisfactory sightings of all are those where you have to deduce the species by eliminating all other options. And then you spend the next 23 years waking up at 3 in the morning questioning whether the throat of the animal you saw was all in fact all-white or just flecked white. As someone once said ‘There’s a very fine line between hobby and mental illness….’.

    • Jon Hall

      Damn. Have you been talking to my therapist?

    • Venkat Sankar

      Totally agree on this last point. Thankfully photos make it easier, but I’ve had to “re-do” a lot of rodents in CA in particular for these kinds of reasons. I’ll be sitting happily (at first) one day thinking about the new kangaroo rat species I just saw only to second guess myself on a field mark not long after and decide to scrap the record and do it over again, preferably with photos…

      The glimpses suck too. I saw a Zorilla this way in Kenya last summer, but couldn’t bring myself to count the striped black and white blur that bounded away in the light. It couldn’t have been anything else really but no one else saw it even as well as I had, so I had no choice but to let it go. A pity as it’s a tricky one to see!!

  • Warren Gilson

    My words come back to haunt me this Halloween! Just got a glimpse of a Leadbeaters possum running along a branch before disappearing into the brush. Not much detail seen beyond general size shape and movement but I was with an experienced guide (Jay from Treeswift Wildlife) who confirms species. No photo unfortunately. I’ve been tugged back and forth over this one for a couple of days now. Although I have no doubts over what we saw, I think I’m going to wait and try to see one in better detail before officially adding to my list.

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