The attack happened in a remote mountain pasture in Thomatal, but the man did not report it until Thursday. He did not need to be treated in hospital.
"The Alpine police have launched an investigation, tomorrow a commission will be set up by the district administration," police spokeswoman Eva Wenzl told the Austrian Press Agency (APA). She said she did not know how old the man was.
Salzburg bear conservationist Georg Rauer told APA he will be taking pictures at the reported location, and that he had not been aware that there were any bears in Lungau.
He said he had spoken to the farmer, who had some minor cuts. He added that it was extremely uncommon for bears to attack people in Austria. “I can’t think of a similar incident here,” he said.
Franz Wieser, a spokesman for Salzburg’s hunting and wildlife councillor, said he had also spoken to the farmer. “He said that he came across the bear and surprised it and so he began slowly walking away, backwards, but then he stumbled and fell. When he sat up the bear came at him and cuffed him on the cheek – so he pretended to be dead and then the bear moved on.”
According to wildlife experts the farmer did exactly the right thing in the circumstances.