Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Black bear attacks Ishpeming resident

Ishpeming, Mich. – Timothy Saxwold, of Ishpeming, was bitten on
the left forearm and hand by a female black bear at about 8 a.m. on
the morning of Aug. 30. The incident occurred on property he owns
when he and his dog, Kia, unknowingly got between a female bear and
her cubs.

Saxwold was walking Kia, which he does on a daily basis for
about 2 miles near his home, when the incident occurred. The dog is
a Labrador mix weighing 116 pounds that Saxwold got from the
Marquette County Humane Society shelter a year ago when it was 10
years old. The area where they normally take their walks has a lot
of blueberries and wild cherries, which attract bears.

During the 23 years Saxwold said he has lived in the area, he
had never seen a bear. But he knew they were in the area, based on
the presence of tracks and droppings.

The dog was ahead of its owner when the adult female bear that
was estimated to weigh between 150 and 200 pounds walked onto the
trail between them. A pair of cubs that Saxwold saw through the
brush had crossed the trail ahead of their mother.

“As soon as I saw those cubs, I remember thinking, ‘This isn’t
going to be good,’ ” Saxwold said. “I hollered at Kia to sit, and
he did. Before I knew it, my arm was in the bear’s mouth. I know
bears are fast, but I didn’t know they were that fast.”

Saxwold said he kicked the bear in the head twice after she
grabbed him; at the same time he yelled at the animal. She let go
after the second kick, but then she immediately bit down on his

Kia joined the action to try to defend his master. The dog
charged at the bear with his teeth showing and the hair up on his
back, Saxwold said, biting the bear on the rear. As soon as the dog
pounced on the bear, it turned its attention to Kia. The dog ran
and the bear ran after it, with both of them going out of sight
around a corner in the trail.

Saxwold said he thought that might be the last time he saw his
pet alive. He assumed the bear would catch the aging dog and kill

After wrapping his bleeding arm and hand in his shirt, Saxwold
grabbed a metal post that was in the ground nearby to use as a
possible weapon. He started toward the house, which is the same
direction the bear and dog had gone. He had only gone about 50
yards when the bear reappeared and charged toward him again.

“George Waters, my old Boy Scout leader, had told us, ‘If you
encounter a bear, make yourself look as big as you can and make a
lot of noise.’ That’s all I could think of as the bear was coming
toward me,” Saxwold said.

“I was waving my shirt, yelling and screaming at the bear. When
she got close, it looked like she was going to stand on her hind
legs, but she didn’t. She never did make contact again. She took
off into the woods and was huffing. Based on the sounds, I could
tell she was going toward her cubs.”

Brian Roell, DNR wildlife biologist, and conservation officer
Elton Luce interviewed Saxwold about the attack after he received
medical attention.

“It was clearly a defensive attack,” Roell said, “with the
mother bear trying to protect her cubs. It was not a predatory
attack. (Saxwold) said the bear was doing what a bear should do. He
didn’t want the bear trapped or destroyed.”

Officials don’t believe the bear poses a threat to the

Saxwold was treated and released at Bell Memorial Hospital in
Ishpeming. No stitches were required. Saxwold said he didn’t notice
any pain at the time of the attack and he didn’t feel any until
about an hour later. As a precaution, he is undergoing a series of
shots for rabies.two.

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