November 17, 2016 / 6:30 PM / 3 years ago

Maryland woman injured in state's first recorded bear attack

(Reuters) - A black bear mauled a woman in her rural Maryland driveway on Wednesday in a rare attack after she inadvertently came near the animal and its cubs, an official said on Thursday.

The woman, 63-year-old Karen Osborne, suffered a broken arm, cuts to her head and puncture wounds to both arms after the attack near Middletown, 60 miles (100 km) west of Baltimore, said Paul Peditto, director of the state’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.

The injuries were not life-threatening and she was recovering at a local hospital, he added.

Authorities found the bear shortly after sunrise on Thursday and euthanised it, he said. It had been wearing a radio collar.

Attacks by American black bears are rare but the chances escalate greatly if a mother perceives a danger to cubs, according to the National Park Service.

In September 2014, a 22-year-old college student was killed by a black bear while he was hiking in a nature preserve in West Milford, New Jersey, some 30 miles (50 km) west of New York City. In October 2015, an 85-year-old Montana woman died of her wounds after an attack by a black bear at her rural home.

Black bears were endangered within Maryland for years after land clearing destroyed much of their habitat, but the population has made a comeback in the past 20 years, Peditto said.

“We have a whole generation of Marylanders who are new to having a healthy bear population,” he said.

The state has no record of a previous black bear attack, he said, although he added it was difficult to scour data from before 1900.

“This was a person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said, adding that the bear likely reacted defensively to what it perceived as a threat.

The woman was walking with her dog to see nearby relatives, and about the time she realized there was a bear she was hit, Peditto said. The bear attacked four separate times, and she was able to call 911 while lying on the ground in a fetal position, he said.

The bear’s three cubs are healthy and capable of surviving on their own, he said.

Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Alan Crosby

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