Black bear attacks woman in northern Minnesota - KMSP-TV

Black bear attacks woman in northern Minnesota

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A woman was attacked by a 190 lb. black bear in northern Minnesota on Monday night after her dog chased after its yearling cubs.

According to the Minnesota DNR, the 72-year-old McGregor, Minn., woman was bitten and clawed, but sustained non-life-threatening injuries.


The incident began when the woman let her golden retriever outside after checking to make sure the bears, which had been seen on the property for several days, weren't around. After letting the dog out, three young bears unexpectedly ran out from under the deck and the dog to chase dafter them.

By the time the woman reached the bottom of her deck stairs, the mother bear appeared.

"Obviously, she was shocked and surprised when she got down to the bottom of the deck and the sow bear was there," said Maj. Phil Meier, with the DNR.

The sow initially went after the dog, but turned her attention to the woman after she yelled for her dog to return.

"This bear did act aggressively," Meier said. "It not only knocked the woman down one time, it retreated a little bit and came back and bit her again."

The bear clawed at the woman's left arm and side during the first lunge. When it attacked a second time, it bit her on the right arm and leg. The woman was able to get to the phone and call 911 around 7 p.m.

Although she was hospitalized with numerous puncture wounds to her arms and legs, the woman is now recovering at home and said she is thankful to be alive.


An Aitkin County deputy couldn't find the bears near the property, but a DNR officer later found them about 200 yards away from the home. When the sow ran toward the officer, he shot and killed it.


According to DNR records, this is only the fifth documented bear attack on a person involving injuries in Minnesota since 1987. None of the attacks have been fatal and the most recent attack requiring hospitalization was in 2005.

"Like any wild animal, bears can be unpredictable," said Rodmen Smith, acting director of the DNR's enforcement division. "This situation was clearly unusual bear behavior and presented a public safety risk."

Under state law, conservation officers and other enforcement agencies may kill a bear if it is considered a threat to public safety; however, 

Meier said, in general, black bears will avoid or flee humans.

"What people don't realize is that black bears are probably much more afraid of us than we are of them," he said.

Peggy Callahan, with the Wildlife Science Center, told FOX 9 News it's likely the sow was simply being protective of her yearlings.

"It's not altogether uncommon for dogs to set us up by harassing a bear and then leaving the scene and the bears then come after the human, which is way easier to catch," she said.

As for why the bears were there at all, Callahan said they were probably after the seed in the bird feeder.

"If you feed wildlife, you will get wildlife," she said. "You can't control what."


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