In an extremely rare occurrence, a black black bear killed a woman.
The incident took place on a secluded island in Canadian waters. The woman was visiting her family at their remote cabin on Red Pine Island.
Woman Mauled by Black Bear
The woman’s name was Catherine Sweat-Mueller, 62, from Minnesota. She went outside to check on her dogs that she heard barking. However, when she never returned and one dog came back injured, her parents called the police.
According to the officers at the scene, they found a black bear standing over her body. Officers later shot the bear.
“The family is, of course, very devastated. The officers on the scene were fairly devastated to deliver the news. … We can’t believe a bear attacked a person,” Police Constable Jim Davis told NBC News.
There had been no recent reports of attacks in the area prior to the attack. The bear is being sent in for a necropsy (animal autopsy) to help determine if there were any abnormal reasons as to why the bear behaved the way it did.
Minnesota has only 14 reported black bear attacks in state history, according to CBS Minnesota. None of them have been fatal, either. There have been 25 attacks in the past 22 years.
Clearly the attack is both abnormal and unprecedented.
Dave Garshelis, a bear researcher from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said that this kind of fatal black bear attacks happens once a year in all of North America. Attacks from a grizzly bear happen about twice a year.
“They’re very unaggressive bears. If you ever approach a black bear closely, typically they’ll see you and run off,” Garshelis said.
Handling an Aggressive Bear
In 2013, there were unprecedented numbers in terms of bear attacks. In five different states, six people went head to head with a black bear or grizzly bear. This includes people in Alaska, Wyoming, and Michigan.
While the attacks were unrelated, it shows that while rare, those who are in areas where bears are common should be prepared to deal with an aggressive bear.
According to National Geographic, there are two kinds of bear attacks. They either involve protecting a food source or the bear’s young.
Often times, the animal may give a warning that you are in its personal space and need to leave. It may bluff charge first.
“That’s not an attack; it’s simply a behavior. The animal will pop its jaws and give you all kinds of signals that you’re encroaching on its personal space and it’s uncomfortable with that,” Bear Expert John Beecham said.
Another is a predatory attack where the bear is trying to eat you. These are extremely rare. To deal with this, scare it off by throwing things and making loud noises. Make threatening gestures and make it think there is too much risk involved in its hunt.
If it is a defensive attack, play dead. One of the biggest mistakes is trying to run away. The bear will perceive you as a threat.
The best way to deal with a bear attack is to educate yourself on the wildlife in your area. Learn how to deal with different scenarios and recognize different types of bears. Make sure to know how to deal with black bears and grizzly bears in the odd chance of an attack. If you’re hiking or camping in an area with a bear population, carry bear spray or a bell to help counter the odds of interaction.