Mich. DNR kills bear, seeks link to attack on girl

By David N. Goodman

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Aug. 18 2013 4:27 p.m. MDT

In this undated family photo provided by Elizabeth Wetherell shows her daughter Abby Wetherell, who was attacked by a bear while running down a dirt trail Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in northern Michigan, according to officials.

Elizabeth Wetherell, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

DETROIT — Conservation officers shot a shot and killed a black bear Sunday and plan tests to see if it's the animal that chased and mauled a 12-year-old girl as she jogged on her grandfather's wooded land in northern Michigan, authorities say.

A bear clawed Abby Wetherell in the thigh Thursday at site 35 miles south-southeast of Traverse City in Wexford County's Haring Township.

The attacked happened in the northern Lower Peninsula. Michigan has an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 black bears, but 90 percent of them live across the Straits of Mackinac in the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula.

Abby screamed, and her father and a neighbor scared the bear off. She underwent surgery at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. She was released from the hospital Sunday and is recovering at home, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.

After the attack, the DNR said it would track down and kill the bear and test the body for rabies and other communicable diseases.

On Saturday night, two conservation officers responded to a complaint about a bear at a site near where Abby was attacked, the department said in a statement.

A man told them he shot and wounded a bear on his property because he believed it was threatening him, the department said. Bears are a protected species in Michigan and cannot be shot unless they pose an immediate threat.

The agents "subsequently tracked the bear and shot and killed the animal" early Sunday, the DNR said.

The DNR said the bear's carcass was sent to its lab in Lansing for DNA and disease testing. It said the bear's fur and other DNA samples were taken from Abby's clothing to see if there is a match.

The bear was killed in Selma Township, about 2 miles from where Abby was attacked.

"Bear attacks on human beings are highly unusual, and in most cases occur because a sow is protecting her cubs" the DNR said. "However, there is no evidence that cubs were present where the attack on Abby occurred."

The DNR said that it would continue efforts to trap bears in the area until it determines whether the dead animal carried out the attack.

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