A Minnesota woman was attacked and killed by a black bear in what officials are calling a rare incident.
Catherine Sweatt-Mueller, 62, was staying with her parents Sunday on their secluded, family-owned island, Red Pine Island, on Rainy Lake in Ontario, Canada. Sweatt-Mueller noticed her two dogs barking strangely, so she went out to check on them, Ontario Provincial Police Constable Jim Davis told CNN.
The dogs came back to the cabin, one injured and bloody, he said. But Sweatt-Mueller didn’t return, prompting her mother to call 911.
Officers got the call at 6:30 p.m. local time, but it took them 30 minutes to get to the remote island by boat, then another 45 minutes to locate Sweatt-Mueller because of the wooded terrain, Davis said.
When they found her, about 330 yards from the cabin, a black bear was standing over her body, he said. She was declared dead on the scene.
Police fatally shot that black bear, Davis said, before two other black bears – one stomping its feet, snorting and smacking its lips and another working its way around a perimeter – soon took off.
These kinds of attacks are rare, Davis said. In his 11 years as a police officer, he’d never heard of anything like it happening.
“It’s a fairly unique situation and not an everyday occurrence,” he said. “Definitely a one-off.”
In the 110 years starting in 1900, at least 63 people were killed by black bears in 59 incidents in the US and Canada, according to a 2011 study.
The slain bear will undergo a necropsy at the University of Guelph. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is searching for the other two black bears, it said in a statement.