In one of two attacks, man wrestles bear off his beloved little dog outside N. Minnesota home

Paul Walsh, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Outdoors

Capt. Tom Provost, a regional conservation officer supervisor for the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said he understands that "emotions can get the best of us" in situations such as Vagts'.

"But you are taking a huge risk," Provost said, reacting like Davy Crockett, the "King of the Wild Frontier" whose heroics in early 1800s America are the stuff of legend. "You need to balance what's important to you."

After he left Vagts, the animal headed to a parcel near McDougal Lake and took on two other humans.

At a residential garage construction site, Ely-based carpenters Daniel Boedeker, 58, and Gary Jerich, 54, tangled with the bear, according to the Lake County Sheriff's Office. The animal attacked Jerich, and Boedeker was bitten on the arm while coming to the rescue of his co-worker.

The bear again took off but was soon located in the vicinity, and a deputy shot it shortly after noon, the Sheriff's Office said.

The animal has undergone a necropsy at the University of Minnesota's Veterinary Diagnositic Lab in St. Paul, said Martin Moen, a College of Veterinary Medicine spokesman. The examination may reveal clues about why the bear was not hibernating. Some of its tissue has been transferred to the state Health Department for rabies testing, Moen said.

Cheri Zeppelin, a DNR spokeswoman based in Grand Rapids, said that "bears can be disrupted from (hibernation) by disturbances near their dens (such as) people, machinery, etc. Bears utilizing a ground nest, rather than an actual den, could be more susceptible to disturbance."

Instances of bears attacking humans in Minnesota are extremely rare, whether during hibernation season or at other times, Provost said.

In early June 2013, a black bear bit and clawed a woman outside her home in McGregor, about 60 miles west of Duluth. At that time, that attack was the first on a human by a black bear in Minnesota in seven years and the fifth reported in the past 25 years.

"They have an innate fear (of humans)," Provost said. "We are considered some type of a predator. It's in their best interest to not be around humans."

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