The Memorial Day Weekend got off to a rough start for a Minnesota woman, who received injuries during an encounter with a bear in Central Minnesota at the start of the weekend.

The Cass County Sheriff's Office reports that a 65-year-old Minneapolis woman was visiting a cabin north of Brainerd in the Nisswa area for the holiday weekend. The woman was spending time in Fairview Township on the west side of Gull Lake when she was attacked by a black bear.

Google Maps
Google Maps

The report states that the woman let her dog outside around midnight on the night of Thursday, May 25, when she heard her dog in a confrontation with something in the darkness. She went back outside to bring the dog in, at which point she encountered what her dog was interacting with - a black bear.

The woman was struck by the bear, hit in both the chest and arm, being knocked down to the ground. Hearing the struggle between the woman and the bear, family members quickly worked to scare the bear away from the yard.

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The woman was taken to a hospital in Brainerd, where she received treatment for injuries sustained in the bear encounter. The victim sustained injuries to her shoulder, chest, and back during the incident.

The woman shared a photo of one of her injuries, showing claw marks on her left arm, extending from her shoulder and down to her elbow.

Cass County Sheriff's Office
Cass County Sheriff's Office

Black bears are generally not aggressive in encounters with people, and the Minnesota DNR believes that the bear was startled by the encounter with the dog and woman, leading to it becoming defensive. This incident is only the 10th serious injury involving a black bear attack in Minnesota since 1987.

While aggressive encounters with black bears are rare, they certainly can and do happen. The Cass County Sheriff's Office reiterated recently-shared tips from the Minnesota DNR on what to do in the event of a bear encounter to ensure everyone's safety.

Some of those tips include preventative measures like proper food and trash storage to avoid attracting bears to your home, campsite, etc. In addition, if you do encounter a bear, how you should respond depends on the situation. In all cases, you should try to maintain a safe distance and avoid spooking a bear if it is unaware of your presence.

While many of these additional tips from the Cass County Sheriff's Office and Minnesota DNR are dependent on how and where you encounter the bear, these are additional things to keep in mind:

  • Assess why the bear is there (is there food, bird seed, etc. that might be attracting it?)
  • Be sure the bear has a clear escape route, ensuring you are not "cornering 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. This may encourage them to chase after you.
  • 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.

You can learn more about what to do if you encounter a black bear from the Minnesota DNR website.

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