Vermont woman attacked by bear; barking dog lures animal away

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 10:11 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2022 at 4:44 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

STRAFFORD, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Fish and Wildlife says a Strafford woman was attacked by a bear on her property, and one of her dogs lured the animal away from her.

Game wardens say Susan Lee, 61, was walking on her property Saturday with her two dogs when she heard a loud noise and realized a bear was charging her.

Lee tripped and fell. The black bear jumped on her and started biting her leg.

That’s when her Jack Russell terrier intervened by barking at the bear and drawing its attention away from Lee. The bear got off her and focused on the dog.

Lee was able to return home with her dogs without seeing the bear again.

She was treated at the hospital for a bite wound on her upper left leg and multiple scratches between 2- and 9-inches long on both her sides. Her wounds were not life-threatening.

Fish and Wildlife biologists investigated the attack site but did not find the bear. They believe the bear was a female with cubs, and the attack was likely provoked when Lee and her dogs surprised them.

This is just the fourth bear attack in Vermont in the last 75 years.

“In this particular incident, there was no food left out, there was nothing to attract the bear. This happened in the woods, this was an isolated incident. We don’t believe that this is normal bear behavior. It’s normal for a mother bear to protect her cubs, but not to make contact with people,” said Sgt. Jeffrey Whipple of Vermont Fish and Wildlife.

However, wardens say bear sightings across the region are on the rise. They say trash and chicken coops should be secured. They also say bird feeders are a common attraction for bears.

“Bear attacks are extremely rare in Vermont,” Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Bear Biologist Jaclyn Comeau said in a statement. “However, at this time of year black bears are moving in family units and mothers will be protective of their cubs. If confronted by a bear it is essential to remain calm and back away slowly, and to fight back immediately if attacked.”

Click here for more guidance from Vermont Fish and Wildlife on navigating bear encounters.