A Florida man says he’s lucky to be alive after he was viciously attacked by a black bear while walking his dog.
Andrew Meunier was standing outside of his Naples apartment complex Wednesday night when a bear suddenly appeared and lunged at him, slashing his face and torso.
"This is the first documented injury from a bear in South Florida since we started keeping records in the 1970s,” Brian Norris, public information officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, told Fox News.
Meunier suffered several cuts across his head and chest before he managed to escape the bear’s grip. He called 911 and was rushed to a local hospital, where he received 41 stitches.
“I don't think it's very deep, but it's an 8 inch cut,” Meunier said, describing the gash across his cheek to FOX4.
Though Meunier anticipates a slow and painful recovery, the man says he’s grateful the outcome wasn’t worse.
"I'm just happy to be alive," Meunier said. "It could've been a totally different story."
Meunier said he saw three other bears along with the one that attacked him.
Several neighbors told FOX4 they’ve recently spotted a mother bear and her cubs roaming around the apartment complex.
"Any bear to me is big, but I have to say this one here is probably between 250 to 300 pounds,” neighbor Kirk Amerine said. “She's had three cubs around with her.”
Bear sightings aren’t uncommon in Florida. There are about 4,050 black bears statewide, according to a 2015 report from the FWC.
But the FWC said it’s “very rare” for bears to attack humans.
And about 31 percent of all bear-related calls from 2000 to 2016 have involved a bear rummaging through garbage, the report stated. Meunier’s neighbors believe that’s the reason why this particular group of bears has been circling their complex.
"We use these old trash bins, and they should be inside the garage, but they are not,” resident David Johnson told WFTX. “Therefore, any trash that's left out is a free meal for the mother bear and her cubs.”
In response to the attack, the FWC said it placed two traps in the area with the hopes of catching and relocating the bears.
“Public safety is paramount to the FWC, and we take this incident and all human-bear conflicts very seriously,” Dave Telesco, the FWC’s bear management program coordinator, said in an emailed statement to Fox News. “We have been and will continue to work with this community and others to reduce human-bear conflicts.”