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Bear shot by game warden near McGregor after attack on woman

A 72-year-old McGregor woman was bitten and clawed by a sow bear before the animal and her three yearlings left the woman’s property Monday night.

The woman received “non-life-threatening” injuries and the bear later was killed when it charged at a state conservation officer, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource said today.

The DNR said the sow weighed about 190 pounds, slightly larger than average, and had been seen around the woman’s property in recent days.

“Like any wild animal, bears can be unpredictable,” Rodmen Smith, acting director of the DNR’s Division of Enforcement, said. “This situation was clearly unusual bear behavior and presented a public safety risk.”

According to the DNR, the incident Monday began when the woman let her dog outside after checking to make sure the bears, which had been seen on the property for several days, weren’t around. When the three yearlings unexpectedly ran from under the deck, her golden retriever ran off the deck and gave chase.

When the woman reached the bottom of her deck stairs, she saw the sow nearby. The sow initially ran toward the dog, but when the woman yelled for the dog to return, the sow changed direction and came at her, striking her left arm and side with its claws and knocking her to the ground. The bear retreated, and then attacked a second time, biting her on the right arm and leg, leaving puncture wounds. The sow bear ran in the direction of the three yearlings.

The woman called 911 around 7 p.m.

Despite their size and imposing presences, black bears generally avoid people and seldom attack, choosing usually to run away, climb a tree or “bluff” an attack. There have been no human fatalities in Minnesota in recent years due to black bears and only a handful of reports of bears touching or hurting anyone, despite a population of more than 12,000 to 15,000 bears and more and more people living and recreating in the north woods where bears live.

The DNR says this is the fifth known time a bear has attacked a person in Minnesota since 1987.

  • In July 2005, a bear charged, clawed and bit a 50-year-old Holyoke woman near her rural home. She suffered scrapes and bruises and was treated for rabies as a precaution.
  • In 2003, another Northland resident, 37-year-old Kim Heil-Smith, was attacked by a bear near Grand Marais in September 2003. The resident of Devil Track Lake Road was talking on a cordless phone when she opened her home’s entryway into the attached garage and came face-to-face with a sow and her cub. The bear bit her head, shoulder and thighs. She suffered multiple puncture wounds and scratches that required stitches at Cook County North Shore Hospital.
  • In 1997, Ken Berger of Ely was bitten and clawed by a bear in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness after he chased a bear that took his food pack.
 Article written by John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune
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