Frederick County Woman Mauled By Bear Has More Serious Injuries

State officials contacts between bears & human have increased in Md. in recent years.

Frederick, Md. (KM)  A Frederick County woman who was attacked last week by a black bear has more serious injuries that originally thought.  Karen Osborne, 63,  was mauled by Wednesday night by a the bear in a driveway of her daughter’s home on Irongate Lane near Frederick. She was taken to Meritus Medical Center.

Her husband tells media outlets that Osborne has a fractured pelvic bone, and several other injuries. He says she might have to remain hospitalized for several weeks, and will need extensive rehabilitation.

State Wildlife officials say this is the first attack by a black bear on a human in more than 80-years. Even though these bears tend  to avoid people, contacts between bears and humans have increased in recent years. “Their nature for the most part is rather conservative, reserved, and they do want to flee typically. But with bears and people coming in contact more frequently, there’s always a chance that this freak thing will happen,” says Harry Spiker, State Bear Biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

What makes this incident unusual is that most bears should be hibernating  at this time. But Spiker says the warm fall we’ve had has delayed that. “It’s energy of conservation. As long as the bears don’t have to expend a lot of energy to stay warm and get food, they’re going to stay out. So typically mid-November, they start to go into the den. That’s probably going to push that back  closer to December this year. And then they’ll start coming out of the den in March, and be out by April,” he says.

Spiker says when bears are in residential neighborhoods, they’re looking for food. He says they’re  attracted to trash and garbage people leave out. “As far as trash, keep it locked up in a shed, in a garage in a basement, someplace where a bear can’t get to it and can’t get used to it,” he says. Put out the trash on the day it’s collected.

For residents who have bird feeders, “take them down. Just feed the birds during the months that the bears are hibernating, from December to March,” says Spiker.

If you encounter a bear in your yard or neighborhood, don’t panic, says Spiker. “If the bear has no idea you’re there, just keep observing it  from a safe distance, enjoy the view, and then let it go; let it move on,” he says.

But if the bear knows you’re there, “just stand your ground. Stay large, don’t bend over, look small. You can talk in a firm voice and then back away,” says Spiker

But never corner the bear. “Always make sure the bear has an escape route, someplace to go. They typically try to avoid people, and you don’t want them to be cornered,” says Spiker.

DNR officials say the bear who attacked Osborne  was a female with three cubs. Natural Resources Police say the bear was tracked and killed early Thursday morning. The cubs were let go  to fend for themselves.

By Kevin McManus