Tags: florida | bear | attack

Florida Bear Attack? Woman Mauled, Officials Reluctant to Call it Attack

Wednesday, 04 Dec 2013 06:02 PM

By Robin Farmer

A Central Florida woman who blames a bear for attacking her and mauling her face Monday while she walked her dogs has prompted wildlife officials to set traps, but they've held off on calling the incident a bear attack, CNN reported.

Susan Chalfant, 54, remains hospitalized after she suffered serious but nonlife-threatening injuries to her face while walking in Longwood, an area north of Orlando, where bears are commonly spotted seeking food in trash.

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A bloodied Chalfant rushed to a neighbor’s home seeking help, CNN reported.

"She thinks it was a bear," the neighbor said in the 911 call.

"How old is she?" the dispatched asked.

"I can't tell," the neighbor replied. "She's so bloodied, I can't tell."

It’s too soon to say that the incident was an attack, said Florida Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Karen Parker.

"We're calling it a bear incident simply because we simply don't know what happened," Parker said, according to CNN.

"Bears are very, very elusive. They're pretty much more afraid of you than you are of them, and normally when they see a human and they've not been fed and have not been habituated — they're going to run away.”

Bear sightings are common in the area, a resident, who only wanted to be identified as Richard, told CNN.

"There's an actual walkway of the bears between my home and the immediate neighbor," said Richard. "We see them on a regular basis, especially the nights before garbage pickups."

In the past five years, bear complaints more than doubled statewide to 6,189 in 2012, according to a recent analysis of a state wildlife database, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

WFTV in Orlando reported a small female bear was caught in the area near the incident, but authorities said it likely wasn't the one involved.

Despite thousands of nuisance calls, wildlife officers only euthanize a couple dozen bears a year from Central Florida neighborhoods.

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