Dog may have chased off bear that attacked Montana woman

2015-10-14 10:02


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Montana - A Montana woman was bitten on the head by a bear near Yellowstone National Park in a remarkable incident in which her dog may have chased the bear off before circling back to its wounded owner, a wildlife official said on Tuesday.

The woman, whose name was not disclosed, was walking with the dog on Monday afternoon along the Yellowstone River about 30 minutes north of the park when the bear attacked and either ran off or was chased away by the woman's pet, said Andrea Jones, spokesperson for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The woman summoned help and was taken to a Livingston, Montana, hospital and treated for a bite wound to the head before she was released, Jones said.

It was not immediately clear whether the attack involved a black bear or its larger, hump-shouldered counterpart, the grizzly.

Landowners told Montana game wardens that a grizzly had been roaming the river corridor in recent days, prompting Fish, Wildlife and Parks to temporarily close fishing access site there.

Several attacks

The woman told wardens her dog had appeared to sense something was afoot before the bear emerged from a riverside shielded by willows and brush.

"She said the dog's hair stood up on the back of its neck right before the attack," said Jones.

The dog either chased away the bear and then returned to its injured owner or ran from fright before circling back to the woman, Jones said.

The incident is the latest in several attacks in the Northern Rockies involving bears, whose desperate search for food like berries amid spare mountain supplies during a persistent drought has led them to lower elevations where they can run into people and conflicts.

Both black and grizzly bears need sufficient reserves of fat in order to hibernate and survive the winter, Neil Anderson, Montana wildlife programme manager, told Reuters.

Their intense seasonal drive to bulk up has been hampered this fall by the drought that reduced supplies of food and water in mountainous terrain in parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

A black bear on September 27 attacked an elderly Montana woman inside her home where she had been feeding them birdseed and millet.

That attack came the same day a hunter in south-eastern Idaho reported minor injuries from an encounter with a black bear. Less than a week later, a hunter in Idaho reported a black bear attacked him in his camp in the east central Idaho mountains.

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