Authorities shot and killed a black bear near Isabella on Tuesday afternoon after the bear apparently injured two people in two different incidents earlier in the day.
The incidents happened near McDougal Lake off State Highway 1. Isabella is located approximately 83 miles northeast of Duluth, Minn. It’s not clear why the bear was out of hibernation and aggressive.
In the first incident, the bear apparently attacked a dog, and a 68-year-old homeowner was injured when he tried to intervene. When the individual saw the bear attacking the dog, he jumped on the bear’s back, was thrown off and then bitten, said Lake County Sheriff Carey Johnson.
“He was bitten in the abdomen and suffered some puncture wounds,” said Capt. Tom Provost, regional conservation officer supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The bear apparently then moved 150 yards down the lakeshore to a cabin that was being worked on by two carpenters, Provost said. The bear appeared to be moving toward one man when the other man intervened to help.
One of the carpenters was bitten in the arm. The other was not injured, Provost said.
“We have two victims in the (Ely) hospital. The third person didn't suffer any serious injuries,” Provost said.
The injuries to both of the men who were hospitalized are not believed to be life-threatening.
The incidents were reported just before 11 a.m., Johnson said. He said deputies shot the bear, a female estimated to be about 200 pounds, within 100 yards of the scene where the carpenters were attacked.
“We had deputies out there and (conservation officers) and they got it pretty close to the scene,” Provost said, adding that DNR biologists will inspect the bear to find out why it was awake, moving around and aggressive.
“We may send it to the University” of Minnesota for a necropsy “or have our bear experts do it here in Grand Rapids,” he said. “They may look at its fat reserves or for anything else that might be wrong with it. ... We really don't know if this bear woke up mad or was maybe out on the prowl for a few days.”
Black bear attacks on humans are very rare anywhere in the world, including Minnesota. And because black bears usually enter hibernation in late October, spending the winter in a mostly sleepy state and not venturing outside, they are seldom seen during winter months. Bears usually spend winter in some sort of den, piles of leaves or under uprooted trees and live off their fat reserves until spring.
There have been few reports of black bear attacks in winter months anywhere, but a few have occured in recent years in summer months in Minnesota.
In June 2013, a 72-year-old rural McGregor woman was bitten and clawed by a sow bear in the woman's yard just outside her lake home. The woman received non-life-threatening injuries and the bear was later killed when it charged at a state conservation officer about 200 yards from where the attack occurred. The woman spent one night in the Aitkin hospital and was treated for bite and claw wounds to her left arm, side, right arm and right leg.
In July 2005, a bear attacked a Holyoke woman on her property south of Duluth. She received several puncture wounds and had to be treated for possible rabies.
In September 2003, a Grand Marais-area woman was bitten by a black bear in the woman’s attached garage at her home on Devil Track Lake.
The DNR estimates about 12,000 to 15,000 bears in the state.
John Myers of the News Tribune staff contributed to this report.