By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California woman was attacked by a 200-pound black bear in a rural area of central California, suffering bites, scratches and a broken rib, state fish and wildlife officials said on Thursday.
The woman told authorities she briefly lost sight of her dogs when they went off the trail during a hike near the community of Carpenteria, east of Santa Barbara, California, on Monday, Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Janice Mackey said.
"The dogs come running back with the bears chasing them, the dogs run past the woman and bear comes up, starts hitting her," Mackey said. "Basically she got into a tangle with the bear and tried to get away but the bear ended up pushing her down and scratching and biting her."
After the bear left, the woman was able to make it to a nearby residence and was taken to a local hospital for treatment of her wounds, Mackey said. She was released from the hospital later that night.
Fish and Wildlife officers have set traps for the bear, Mackey said, and if it is caught and matched to the attack through forensic testing, it will be humanely euthanized. The animal is believed to be between 200 and 300 pounds and possibly a male.
Mackey said no cubs were spotted in the area so the bear may have just been aggressively defending its territory when it confronted the woman and her dogs. She said such unprovoked attacks were rare in California.
"It's a very rural area, the terrain is very rugged with steep hills," she said. "There's an avocado orchard there and the bear was probably eating avocados."
On Sunday, a female grizzly bear with cubs attacked and injured a bow hunter in the mountains of western Wyoming not far from where a bear recently killed a Utah man conducting research for the U.S. Forest Service.
And in New Jersey a man hiking in a heavily wooded area was killed by a black bear on Sunday, in what experts said was believed to be the first fatal bear attack in the state since 1852.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler)