Woman severely hurt in black bear attack (MN)


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motoman
July 31, 2005, 11:23 AM
Red Star (http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/5535081.html) A black bear attacked and severely injured a 50-year-old woman walking in the woods near her home in Carlton County on Friday.

Mary Lou Munn, who lives in Holyoke Township, southwest of Duluth, was reported in good condition Saturday at St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth.

Her husband, John Magnuson, and other county residents described the attack as highly unusual and speculated the bear might have been startled or defending cubs, although none were seen. Magnuson said he had seen what he believes may be the same animal in the area.

He described his wife as "a pretty tough lady. I've got to hand it to her." Depending on whether claw and teeth wounds over much of her body get infected, he said, she may remain hospitalized for four or five days. Munn's 51st birthday will be Friday.

She was found lying in her front yard at about 5:30 p.m. with several severe cuts to her leg, back, stomach and shoulder area, authorities said.

She told sheriff's deputies she was walking in the woods by a beaver pond when the attack occurred.

Munn fought the bear with a small stick and her fists, and Magnuson said their dog, an Italian mastiff, tried to help by drawing the bear away three times. But the bear returned, he said.

After the bear stopped, Munn walked a quarter-mile back to her house and called police, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Magnuson said he and his wife live on property with "a couple of horses" in a "very bushy, low-visibility area" in a rural part of the county. Unfortunately, he said, his wife was home alone at the time. Two adult sons live elsewhere in the Duluth area.

Pam Coy, a wildlife biologist with the Grand Rapids office of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said Saturday that black bear attacks are very rare, but when they do occur, they are usually predatory.

"Generally black bears run away if they see a person, even a female with cubs," Coy said. "But the theory is that most black bear attacks are predatory; they see someone and think it's food. That usually happens in very remote areas where the bear hasn't had contact with humans."

She said the dog may have been a factor in the attack, making the bear more aggressive.

Coy recalled two black bear attacks in the past couple of years, one near Mille Lacs Lake and the other near Grand Marais.

Carlton County Commissioner Ted Pihlman of Moose Lake said he was surprised by news of the attack because he has seen only three bears in 50 years of deer hunting and this year "there's a lot of berries and bear food" in the woods that might be expected to keep bears well-fed.

He said residents are likely to be concerned when they hear of a bear that attacks people and is roaming the area.

Coy said the DNR probably will contact the conservation officers in the area and try to find the bear, perhaps by setting traps. The bear in the Grand Marais attack was very aggressive and had to be shot, she said.

Because a black bear attack is predatory, the best defense is to fight as hard as possible, Coy said.

Bears in the metro

Two male black bears were killed by authorities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area this year.

On April 19, DNR officers shot a bear in Maplewood because they said it posed a public safety concern as it roamed near a freeway.

On May 17, St. Paul animal control officers tranquilized a bear after it wandered through Oakdale, Woodbury, Maplewood and St. Paul. Later they destroyed the animal, saying they could not find a way or a place to move it

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birddog
July 31, 2005, 06:38 PM
I agree that the dog may have been a factor in the attack....it probably saved her life!

Lucky lady. A determined, predatory black bear is no joke.

Vern Humphrey
July 31, 2005, 06:55 PM
Because a black bear attack is predatory, the best defense is to fight as hard as possible, Coy said.


That's French for "Always carry a gun." ;)

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