Woman injured by bear in her yard

A 73-year-old woman and her dog survived a fight with a bear in her yard late Saturday night in the 100 block of Rambo Court near Linden.

Officials with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said the victim received unspecified injuries to her right leg, hip and elbow after the bear swiped her with its paw. The Sheriff’s Office said Monday it did not have information on the victim’s name, and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries withheld the victim’s name.

Fred Frenzel, a state wildlife biologist who investigated the incident, said the bear left the scene sometime later with no further harm done. Frenzel said authorities are not hunting the bear or planning to take any action against it.

Frenzel said the bear, a female, was protecting herself and two cubs that had been chased up a tree by the victim’s dog. When the two animals began scrapping, the woman intervened to save her dog.

“She ran over and kicked the bear,” Frenzel said of the woman. “When she kicked the bear, the bear swatted at her and clawed her a couple of times.”

Frenzel added that the bear was acting normally and defending itself as a response to the woman kicking it several times.

Lt. Charles Bockey of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office said the victim had let the dog out of the house moments before without realizing the bear and her cubs were outside the residence.

“The (woman) let the dog outside, and that’s when the attack occurred with the dog,” Bockey said. “The (woman) went out there to get the bear off her dog and that’s when the bear turned on her.”

The victim fell to the ground after the bear hit her, Frenzel said. She managed to get up and grab another pet dog that was nearby and fled into the house with it. Frenzel said the dog that had been battling the bear managed to follow the owner and the other dog into the house while the bear remained outside.

Authorities arriving at the scene soon after saw the bear pacing near the house while the cubs remained up in the trees.

Frenzel said the victim was treated at Warren Memorial Hospital and later at Winchester Medical Center where she was released.

Authorities left the scene after concluding that the bear’s behavior during the encounter did not constitute anything out of the ordinary or indicate it was more of a threat to humans than other bears.

“We decided we could leave and let the mother bear get the cubs out of the tree and move on, which is what happened,” Frenzel said.

Frenzel said the Sheltie dog that had tangled with the bear did not appear “as injured as seriously as it could have been” when he saw it at the scene.

Frenzel said he was certain the bear and her cubs had been attracted to the yard by birdseed. The ensuing encounter among the dog, the bear and her cubs and the dog’s owner was typical of physical conflicts between bears and humans, Frenzel said.

“It was an unfortunate chain reaction that started with the birdseed and then escalated with the dog attacking the bear,” Frenzel said.

Frenzel added that homeowners in areas inhabited by bears should keep their yards free of birdseed and other kinds of food. More information about bears and how people can co-exist with them is available at the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website https://www.dgif.virginia.gov.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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