Woman injured in scuffle with bear

The Warren Sentinel

LINDEN — Two protective mothers got in a fight Saturday night in the 100 block of Rambo Court.

In a successful attempt to save her dog, a 73-year-old woman was injured by a mother bear, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries wildlife biologist Fred Frenzel said.

Late Saturday night, Warren County Sheriffís deputies and Game and Inland Fisheries personnel responded to the reported attack.

Unaware of a mother bear and two cubs in her backyard, the woman let her two dogs outside. The dogs ran after the bears and the two cubs ran up a tree, Frenzel said. The mother bear then grabbed one of the dogs.
"The woman yelled at it, and it didn't let go of the dog. So she ran over and started kicking and hitting the bear," Frenzel said. "At that point, the bear clawed her a couple of times."

The bear let the dog go and pushed the woman to the ground. She gathered the smaller of the two dogs, ran inside and the other dog followed. She received injuries on her arms and leg.

She initially went to Warren Memorial Hospital and was told to go to Winchester Medical Center, Frenzel said. She received no serious injuries and was home the next day.

"She didn't have any bite marks, it was just claw marks. There was claw marks on one arm and there was one claw mark on one leg," Frenzel said. "I'm not a doctor, I can't speak to the severity of the injuries."

The incident was simply a case of a mother bear being protective of her cubs, Frenzel said. The attacked woman understood that and did not want the bears to be shot.

The bears were not shot or trapped because they were not doing anything unusual, Frenzel said. Officials left the scene and allowed the mother bear to gather her cubs.

A birdfeeder drew the bears to the yard, Frenzel said, and this was another example of why anything bears could eat should be removed from outside.

"If you live where there are bears — and this year that's almost everywhere — you really need to not have any kind of attractants out," Frenzel said.

Bears react differently toward dogs than humans and their presence changes the chemistry of an interaction, Frenzel said.

"We're not real sure if that is something engrained in their nature from back in the days when there were wolves around and they see these other canines as potential predators of their cubs," Frenzel said.

A bear will generally not come after a leashed dog, Frenzel said. However, a hiker's leashed dog was killed by a bear near on the Snead Farm Fire Road and Loop trail near Dickey Ridge Visitor's Center in the Shenandoah National Park earlier this month.

The hiker's dog was on a retractable leash, but park regulations require a leash less than six feet long. The trail closed after the incident, but has since been reopened.

"I don't know if the retractable leash was so just long. Maybe the bear saw the dog but didn't see the person at first. I don't know, that's just speculation," Frenzel said.

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