More on the Local Bear Attack - UPDATE January 29, 2018

An article in the Duluth News Tribune yesterday revealed more about the bear that attacked three people and a dog on December 19, 2017.Armstrong Valley in May 2012Armstrong Valley in May 2012

A necropsy revealed brain swelling, leading a DNR official to speculate that the swelling might be a reason for the attack. However, I talked with the victim that was watching the bear’s face from under the bear as his brother-in-law hit the bear hard between the eyes with the corner of a shovel. The man told me “the bear’s eyes disappeared up into the skull” and the bear took off running. A blow like would very likely cause the brain to swell. I very much hope the DNR follows my suggestion to skin the bear to look for bruises and tooth punctures from wolf bites and to now look for blunt trauma from the shovel hitting the forehead between the eyes. It’s possible the shovel broke bones that could be revealed by skinning the bear and looking below the flesh to fully evaluate the cause.

Blunt trauma at the end of the incident followed by brain swelling would not explain the attack. But it could help to explain why the bear was not fully aware when officials approached it to kill it.

The article now states that the bear, a male, was nearly 3 years old (born in January 2015) and nearly 140 pounds.

The article also mentioned a hairless ring around the neck. That led to speculation that the animal was in captivity at one point. However, when I’ve seen such injuries it was due to a wild fisher, bear, or deer being caught by the neck or wrist in a trapper’s snare. The skin becomes traumatized, breaks open, and (after release) heals as a hairless ring of scar tissue as was described for this bear. It sounds like this bear had been through a lot.

Thank you for all you do.

Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center