Rare Bear Attack in Vermont Stopped Thanks to a Heavy-Duty Flashlight

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by: Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A Vermont resident is currently in recovery after she says she experienced a bear attack outside of her condominium complex. 

According to Brattleboro Reformer, Sarah Dietl was out with her dog for a walk on Wednesday (November 2nd). The dog chased a cub up a tree, which caused the mama bear to attack Dietl. The 43-year-old woman sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries in the attack, which has been deemed rare. There have only four bear attacks in Vermont and this is the second one to occur in 2022. 

While recalling details about the bear attack, Dietl stated, “She came running out of the dark. She ran right to me. It was terrifying.” 

Dietl further recalled being maybe a foot from her home when the attack occurred. As soon as the bear was on Dietl, her housemate, Robert Monuoro came to the rescue. He ended up smacking the bear in the head with a heavy-duty flashlight that he was holding. His actions stopped the bear from causing more damage to Dietl or worse.

As the two scrambled back into their home, the bear continued its attack on Dietl. “Once I pulled Sarah into the house, the bear charged the door,” Montouro explained. They slammed the door and quickly called 9-1-1. “I was terrified,” Montouro continued. 

Dietl was taken to Southern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington. She ended up needing 15 staples in her scalp. Other injuries included a “mangled” hand, cuts on her face, and a gash on her side. Montouro was grateful for the quick response of local authorities. “The response from the Police Department, the game wardens, and the EMTs … they’re all angels.”

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department Says Bear Encounters in the State Are At ‘Highest Level’ 

Meanwhile, Col. Justin Stedman, the warden director for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department revealed to the media outlet that bear encounters (including attacks) in the state this year are at the “highest level” that the department has ever had. 

Stedman further shared that the increase in encounters is attributable to various factors. This includes increase in bear and human populations. The lack of natural food bears this season due to lack of rain is also another factor. 

In order to avoid bear attacks and other encounters, the warden director says people need to do a better job at securing food sources, such as dumpsters. “Bears are intelligent creatures,” he said. They learn to associate people with food, because folks want to feed the birds, or they want to put their garbage out. They don’t want to worry about it. These sort of things habituate bears to people, and it compounds over time.” 

Stedman went on to add that the recent bear attack had not appeared to be provoked. He also said Dietl and the dog were at the wrong place at the wrong time.