Woman injured in black bear encounter near Nisswa

Featured photo of the 65-year-old Minneapolis woman involved, shared with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office

A woman was treated and released at a Brainerd hospital after an encounter with a black bear Friday morning.

According to the DNR, the woman was staying at a cabin in Nisswa’s Gull Lake area when she let her dog out shortly after midnight.

She went out to check on the dog when the bear swiped at her, striking her in several places.

The woman’s injuries were serious but not life-threatening. DNR Wildlife officials believe the bear may have been startled by the dog and then the person, as there had been no prior complaints of bear activity.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the incident, and DNR conservation officers are monitoring the area for bears that may threaten public safety.

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch added that the woman’s family heard the commotion and ran out to scare off the bear.

The bear reportedly knocked her to the ground, striking across her chest and arms.

Black bears are rarely aggressive; this is the tenth bear attack since 1987 involving serious injuries that the DNR has documented.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offer the following safety information when encountering black bears.

• Watch from a safe distance or from inside to assess why it is there (for example, is there a food source like birdseed attracting it?).
• Wait and see if the bear leaves on its own. If the bear does not leave on its own but approaches (e.g., comes up on the deck or puts its paws on windows or doors), it’s time to try to scare it away: boldly shout, bang pots, slam doors, or throw something.
• If you have bear spray, remove the safety, and be ready to use it if the bear approaches you.

Sometimes bears exhibit a quick burst of aggression to defend against a perceived threat. The closer you are to the bear when it becomes aware of your presence, the more likely it is to exhibit defensive behavior. This behavior is intended to intimidate and scare away the threat. It may pop its jaws, swat at the ground while blowing or snorting, and it may even bluff charge toward you. The bear is communicating to you that you are too close and it wants you to leave. This is not the time to argue with the bear.

• Try to appear non-threatening.
• Speak to the bear in a calm tone and slowly back away. Do not run.
• If you have bear spray, remove the safety, and point it toward the bear. Starting with a quick spray is OK, as that will not make the bear aggressive.
• If the bear retreats, leave the area immediately.
• Bear spray containing capsaicin (hot pepper liquid) is a good option to change the behavior of bold bears. It also gives you peace of mind and can prevent a bear from attacking. It is available at most outdoor stores or online sporting goods retailers.

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