(AP) An 81-year-old Sparta resident tried to save her dog from a bear attack until the larger animal bit and scratched her.
Her English springer spaniel died of his injuries, according to the Sparta Police Department.
The woman, who lives on Echo Drive, escaped the attack with head and leg injuries after her two dogs initially encountered two bears rummaging through the trash she had previously put out on Jan. 3, police said on Jan. 4.
When the woman, whose name was not mentioned, let her dogs outside, she told authorities that they had seen the bears eating the waste and they walked towards it, causing the larger bear to flee into the forest.
“The other bear stopped and slammed at the English springer spaniel and knocked him to the ground,” police said.
She ran to save her dog, but the bear then attacked her. It was a black bear, Lieutenant John Lamon said.
Then the bear picked up the spaniel and dragged him into the woods while her other dog chased after him, according to the press release.
The woman went to her neighbor’s house and EMS arrived to take her to a local hospital for treatment.
Police found the badly injured dog that the bear dragged away and took him to an animal hospital where he died, they said.
“The homeowner is distraught over the loss of her dog,” police said, adding that she does not want to discuss her loss with the media.
At the hospital, the woman was given several leg stitches and antibiotics and was released, authorities said.
Police contacted NJ Fish & Game rangers on the morning of Jan. 4 to begin an investigation and attempt to locate the bear that attacked.
Black bear attacks are “extremely rare” in New Jersey, according to the state’s Fish & Wildlife Division.
The most common bear problem
According to the agency, state residents experience that they end up in the garbage.
If you encounter a black bear, “avoid direct eye contact, which can be perceived as challenging by a bear,” the agency advises. “Never run from a bear. Instead, step back slowly.”
“To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, banging on pots and pans, or using an air horn. Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms.”