Woman Attacked by Black Bear in Frederick County



A 63-year-old woman was attacked by a black bear on Wednesday night in Frederick County, according to a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) official.

The bear attack happened around 9 p.m. on Irongate Lane in Frederick, near Middleton, according to Harry Spiker, who is a state bear biologist.

Spiker said this is the first time a person has been attacked by a bear in Maryland since the state began keeping records.

DNR officials have identified the woman as Karen Osborne, who suffered a broken arm, cuts to her head, and puncture wounds to both arms. She was transported to a hospital in Hagerstown for treatment of her injuries.

The sow that attacked Osborne was accompanied with three cubs when it encountered Osborne and two dogs in a wooded area, according to Spiker.

“She got right in the middle of the sow and the cubs and the dogs,” said Spiker. “The sow evidently attacked her repeatedly.”

She was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, Spiker said.

Despite her injuries, Osborne was able to call 9-1-1 for help.

According to Spiker, DNR’s wildlife staff responded at the same time as paramedics were treating and transporting Osborne to the hospital.

“Our mission is to take care of the bear situation,” said Spiker.

It turns out the bear was wearing a radio collar, which helped wildlife officers locate it.

“We spent all night tracking the whereabouts of the bear,” Spiker said. “It covered a fair amount of ground.”

According to Spiker, the bear, which weighed 193 pounds and appeared healthy except for a front leg disability, was found and euthanized as DNR protocol dictates after an attack on a human.

Spiker said the bear was shot.

“Really rare type of incident with the bear,” Spiker said, noting that people are interacting with bears everyday in western Maryland.

One of the reasons the bear was euthanized was so DNR can test it for rabies.

“We are doing a necropsy on the bear,” Spiker said. “Just went to the lab today.”

Although the sow had an issue with its front leg, Spiker said it otherwise appeared healthy and it had been seen climbing trees.

As for its age, Spiker says the bear was an adult, at least three-years-old.  He will know for sure when test results come back from a tooth that was pulled from the bear but that may take months.

According to Spiker, DNR began tracking the bear on Sept. 1. He said it was traveling with cubs that weighed between 60 to 70 pounds each. One of those cubs was found in a tree and darted and tagged. The other two are not tagged.

“Those cubs will be fine,” Spiker said. “They are about to enter a den in the next week or two,” he predicted and said they will go out on their own in the spring.

When asked what else he wants people to know about this case, he stressed that it was a rare attack.

He also wants to remind residents in the community that it is illegal to feed bears.

“It’s important to keep bears wild,” he said.

Spiker confirms that the black bear population is growing in Maryland, and he said these bears are expanding their geographic range. On average, 55 – 60 bears are struck by vehicles each year in Maryland. Since these animals are foraging now before entering their dens, Spiker said, it’s important to be on the lookout for them especially when driving in western Maryland. He said black bears can be almost impossible to see on the road at night.

Finally, he said, most bears will flee if they see or smell you. He said it’s important to leave a clear escape route for them, back away slowly, (don’t run), and make noise. You can find more information about black bears in Maryland, here.

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Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at sburke@mymcmedia.org or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.


One Response to “Woman Attacked by Black Bear in Frederick County”

  1. Avatar
    On November 19, 2016 at 7:16 pm responded with... #

    Humans are the worse animals, there was no need to kill that bear!! Now there are baby cubs with no mommy to help them thru the winter!!!

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