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Special Report from AAF Correspondent: H. E.
From The Star Tribune


Man hospitalized after being attacked by black bear
by Kavita Kumar

September 16, 202
Miles Becker was tracking woodcocks he and colleagues had tagged when a black bear attacked him Sunday in a central Minnesota wildlife management area.

Becker, 24, was listed in fair condition Sunday night at St. Cloud Hospital after surgery. He suffered broken facial bones, puncture wounds to his head and left leg, and a broken fibula.

The only other bear attack recorded in Minnesota occurred in 1987, when a female bear attacked campers in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, said Dave Garshelis, a bear biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Wildlife officials have set a trap for the bear.

Becker was working on a study in the Four Brooks Wildlife Management Area 10 miles north of Milaca when he was attacked at 12:45 p.m.

He is part of a team of about six people who have been studying woodcocks.

The three-state study is funded by the DNR, U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Steve Wilds, regional migratory bird chief for the wildlife service.

The researchers, who are studying the effects of hunting on the woodcock population, have been attaching radio transmitters to the birds to track them, Wilds said.

Dick Tuszynski, manager of the Mille Lacs Wildlife Management Area and the nearby Four Brooks area, learned that Becker had radioed his partner to say that he had been attacked by a bear.

His partner was able to locate him in rough terrain from Becker's directions and by using the bird radio transmitters, he said. The partner enlisted the help of some dog trainers competing nearby. They took an ATV part of the way to Becker and walked the rest, and carried him out of the woods to an ambulance, Tuszynski said.

He said he didn't know why the bear attacked Becker, hypothesizing that he might have been wearing earphones to listen to the transmitters and might not have heard potential warning signs such as growls.

"I've bumped into bears when I was out jogging early in the morning or when hunting, but bears are almost always wary and will leave," he said. "It's usually them that run away. That's why we're not sure why the bear attacked Miles."

Tuszynski said he plans to go to the scene of the attack today to search for clues. He said he will look for bear hairs to get a DNA sample that could be used to identify it.

Garshelis said one of the most common reasons for a black bear to attack is if a person stumbles upon it when it is sleeping. In rare cases, a bear actually tries to kill people for food, which seems to have been the case in the Boundary Waters attacks, he said.

Right now, chokecherries, hazelnuts and other bear foods are abundant -- so much so that hunters have been having trouble luring bears with bait in what has been a slow hunting season, he said.

Garshelis said people should not be overly concerned about being attacked by a bear in Minnesota.

"People should always be wary of bears because they are large carnivores and potentially dangerous," he said. "But the rarity [of an attack in Minnesota] is documented by the fact that the last time there was an attack was 15 years ago."

If you do encounter a bear, Garshelis said to back away slowly. If it charges, throw something at it.

There are an estimated 30,000 black bears in Minnesota.


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