BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A black bear with a cub attacked a 60-year-old woman and her two dogs in a popular area in Idaho but she was able to call relatives for help and they were forced to yell to scare off the animal, officials said Wednesday.
The woman was visiting the Idaho Panhandle National Forests and was hiking a trail near a visitors center when the large bear charged her Tuesday, biting her head, side and abdomen, Idaho Department of Fish and Game spokesman Phil Cooper said.
He described the attack as serious, and the woman lost a lot of blood but her injuries were not life-threatening. She was flown to a hospital in Spokane, Washington.
Officials decided the bear needed to be killed because it lingered after the attack, but they called off the search because it crossed a river and they could not be sure they would find the same animal in the area packed with bears.
It appears the adult bear and cub were in a huckleberry patch when they were startled by the dogs, officials said. The bear attacked in defense, Cooper said. A veterinarian treated the dogs, and they will recover.
The woman, whose name was not released, used her cellphone to call family members staying at a cabin nearby, Cooper said. They arrived 30 minutes later and had to yell to make the bear to leave.
Trackers with hounds followed the bear to where it crossed the Priest River about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the attack, Cooper said. After wading across the river, they discovered paw prints of a cub traveling with the adult. Trackers ended the search at that point.
The U.S. Forest Service late Wednesday morning reopened the area near the Priest Lake Visitors Center on the southwest corner of the lake. Agency spokeswoman Shoshana Cooper said the decision came after experts determined the attack to be a female bear defending her cub and not predatory.
Wildlife officials said it's not clear when the last bear attack occurred in the area despite a large population of black bears focused on eating huckleberries. He said hikers should carry bear spray and be ready to use it quickly.