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Bear knocks down woman near her Wis. home

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is investigating a report of a black bear knocking a woman down Sunday night outside her home on the western outskirts of Siren in Burnett County.

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The woman sustained minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital.

"Apparently the woman came around the garage and the bear was right there,'' said Dave Zebro, DNR regional warden. "Usually the bear would hear someone coming and run off, but it must have been startled. We don't get very many cases like this.''

According to the DNR, apparently the same bear had entered the family's home a few nights earlier before leaving through a porch door and causing some damage.

Because the bear had been at the woman's home on several other nights and appears to be unafraid of humans, DNR officials say the bear will be shot and killed by a conservation or law enforcement officer if and when it is found.

"What we have here is a problem with a wild animal that has become habituated to raiding bird feeders, area garbage cans and other human foods," said Mike Zeckmeister, DNR Northern region wildlife supervisor.

It is rare for black bears to harm people. Despite their large populations in Minnesota and Wisconsin -- each state has more than 30,000 bears -- reports of bears physically assaulting someone occur only every few years.

In 2005, Mary Munn was attacked and seriously injured by a bear at her home near Holyoke, south of Duluth. In 2003, Kim Heil-Smith wrestled with and was severely scratched and bitten by a bear in her garage near Grand Marais. In 1999, Boy Scout Mathew Murphy was attacked in his tent at a campground near Birchwood in Washburn County.

Experts say bears are far more likely to bluff-charge or run away if they have the chance rather than confront a human.

Nearly all human-bear conflicts are a result of the animal's search for food and "inevitably this becomes a problem when bears associate people with food sources," Zeckmeister said. DNR officials in Minnesota and Wisconsin constantly are urging people to keep garbage cans, dog food and bird feeders out of the reach of bears.

The bear is believed to be about 125 pounds, meaning it's probably a year old. A larger bear also had been seen near the residence. Bears are nearing the end of their breeding season, and this is a time when sow bears are forcing yearling bears out of the family group, he said.

Siren is about 60 miles south of Superior.

Federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service trappers have placed a live trap at the residence and plan to place another trap in the area in hopes of trapping the bears. Though the family was not intentionally feeding bears, other families in the area have been, Zeckmeister said.

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