Bear Euthanized After Attacking Woman in Maryland

It may be the first bear attack on record in the state

A bear that attacked a woman in Frederick County, Maryland, Wednesday night has been euthanized, Maryland Natural Resources Police said.

Karen Osborne, 63, was walking to her daughter's home next door about 9:30 p.m. to check on her daughter's barking dog when she was attacked in the driveway, Maryland Natural Resources Police said. It was so dark, she didn't realize she walked between the bear and one of her cubs.

Initially, she tried to fight off the animal before deciding it would be safer to play dead, her husband said Thursday at the hospital where she's recovering.

Osborne's injuries were originally described as a broken arm and cuts to her head and arms, required more than 70 stitches. However, doctors took more X-rays on Friday and discovered she had a fracture on her pelvic bone.

Doctors said she'll need extensive rehabilitation and may have to remain hospitalized for several more weeks, according to WTOP Radio.

“She said she punched him in the face a couple times,” Ronald Osborne said. “She's a tough babe.”

The attack, apparently prompted by a perceived threat on the bear's cubs, stopped when Osborne dropped to a fetal position. 

"She went into a fetal position and called 911 laying there," said Paul Peditto with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. "At that point, the bear probably realized the threat to her cubs had subsided."

Mark Snuffin said his mother-in-law didn't know what she walked into.

"It came back a couple of times,' Snuffin said. "This is pretty strange. The kids are a little freaked out today."

Biologists with the Department of Natural Resources used a tracking device to find the sow and later euthanized it. The mother bear was wearing an electronic collar, which is part of a Department of Natural Resources's program. She was tagged last summer after she got into a chicken coop.

The sow was familiar to area residents, said Tara Snuffin, the victim's daughter.

“She's been in the area forever. We all kind of love her,” she said. “We're all very sad that this had to happen this way.”

The bear had three cubs and authorities believe the victim may have gotten between the bear and her cubs. One of the cubs was spotted in a tree near the driveway where Osborne was attacked, apparently treed by the barking dog. Department protocol is to euthanize a bear that attacks a human. 

An official with the Department of Natural Resources said the cubs are old enough to take care of themselves. Biologists were able to put a tracking device on one of the cubs. 

Paul Peditto, director of the DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Service, said it was the state's first recorded bear attack on a human in at least 81 years.

The state's growing bear population, estimated at more than 1,000 in 2011, prompted the state to expand hunting this year to Frederick County, where the attack occurred. Maryland ended a 51-year moratorium on bear hunting in 2004.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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