Arizona Woman Attacked By Bear

Arizona Game and Fish Department, Bear Hunting Magazine

A woman from Gilbert, Arizona was attacked by a black bear earlier this week while walking her dog in the city of Pinetop one evening. Investigators said the black bear had been scavenging for food in a dumpster about 60 yards from where the attack occurred.

According to local officials the bear approached and attacked the woman three separate times before running away. A motorist who witnessed the first attack used a horn to scare the bear up into a tree, but the bear returned and attacked the woman again before witnesses were able chase the bruin away with a vehicle. The bear returned for a third time to attack the victim before running away.

The 61 year-old woman was airlifted to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center and underwent surgery where she is listed in stable but serious condition.

Wildlife officials responded to the scene and used tracking dogs to search for the animal. A bear was found several hundred yards from the site of the attack and immediately killed. Officials said the bear weighed 200-300 pounds.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is conducting a forensic investigation to confirm that the slain bear was responsible for the attack.

"This was an especially aggressive, predatory attack that reminds us that wildlife can be unpredictable," said Larry Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. "Bears are particularly active at this time of year, and we don't believe this attack is related to wildfires in northeastern Arizona. Bears are easily drawn to human food sources, like dumpsters, trash cans and campsites especially during times of drought."

UPDATE 7-2-2011
The Arizona Game and Fish Department completed its portion of the forensic necropsy of a bear that is believed to have attacked a woman in Pinetop on Tuesday. The necropsy included both an extensive external and internal exam and was conducted by the department's veterinarian and law enforcement investigators.

The procedure did not yield any immediately identifiable human material. However, a significant amount of kitchen garbage was found in the bear's digestive tract, including a large quantity of greasy kitchen paper towels. The necropsy revealed that the mature male black bear was in good physical condition with no obvious injuries or maladies that may have contributed to his aggressive behavior.

The team collected numerous evidence samples from the bear's teeth, claws, fur and digestive tract that were flown to the nationally-recognized Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory. The lab will carry out testing to determine if there is a link between the adult male black bear and the attack. Barring complications, initial test results could be available within a week.

The bear is being tested for rabies and those results are expected later this week, although officials do not believe the animal had rabies. Although unlikely, if the forensic necropsy determines that the bear was not the one responsible for the attack, efforts will continue to find the correct bear.

UPDATE 7-5-2011
Results of DNA testing on an adult male black bear have confirmed that the animal is the one that attacked a woman in Pinetop last week.

The rabies test carried out by the Arizona Department of Health Services came back negative.

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