Black bear attacks on humans are rare. In fact, the North American Bear center estimates that the animals have killed 61 people across North America in the past 113 years. And since 1987, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has documented only four attacks on people. In early June, however, a 72-year-old woman was bitten and clawed by a 190-pound sow bear before the animal and her three yearlings left the woman’s property in Aikten County. Minnesota DNR reported that the black bear posed a threat to humans.

“Like any wild animal, bears can be unpredictable. This situation was clearly unusual bear behavior and presented a public safety risk. The incident began when the woman let her dog outside after checking to make sure the bears, which had been seen on the property for several days, weren’t around. When the three yearlings unexpectedly ran from under the deck, her golden retriever ran off the deck and gave chase.

“Bears that feel comfortable living near people may become more unpredictable when faced with a stressful situation, such as a dog in chase of their offspring. Typically, mothers with cubs or yearlings are no more dangerous than solitary bears.”

The woman’s injuries were serious but not life-threatening.

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Shannon Rikard is a freelance writer and photographer with a passion for conservation and wedding and portrait photography. The Archery Trade Association and National Wild Turkey Federation have published her work. A self-professed word geek, she enjoys Wheel of Fortune, crossword puzzles, and finding a dynamite synonym to illustrate any point. After starting her career in public relations with a national conservation organization, she ventured out on her own with Copper Door Studios.