Rare bear attack injures woman near Nisswa

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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By MPR Staff

A woman was released from a hospital in Brainerd after being injured by a black bear, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It happened at a cabin near Gull Lake early Friday, shortly after midnight, after the woman let her dog outside.

In a news release Saturday, the DNR said the woman went to check on her dog and the bear swiped at her, leaving her with serious injuries.

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The Cass County Sheriff’s Office released a few more details on Tuesday, saying the woman was 65 years old and from Minneapolis.

Authorities learned that the woman let her dog outside and then “she heard the dog having a confrontation with something. She went outside to bring the dog in and encountered a black bear. She was struck by the bear in the chest and arm and knocked to the ground. Family members heard the struggle and were able to scare the bear from the victim and yard,” the sheriff’s office reported.

The woman was treated at a hospital in Brainerd for injuries to her shoulder, chest and back.

The bear left the immediate area after the incident. The DNR said prior to the incident, there has been no reported complaints of bear activity in the area.

Staff with the state agency believe the bear may been startled by the dog and swatted at the woman to defend itself.

The DNR said black bears are rarely aggressive and attacks on people are uncommon, but bears that feel comfortable around people can be unpredictable when faced with a stressful situation. Since 1987, this is only the 10th bear attack involving serious injuries documented by the DNR.

The DNR said most of those encounters involved dogs or things that attract bears like birdseed, trash or other food, so efforts to avoid attracting bears to property are key to prevention.

The Minnesota DNR offers tips on its website on how to handle encounters with bears.