Rogue animal? At a time when bears should be hibernating, one shot and killed after two separate attacks in northern Minnesota

Even in places where black bears number in the hundreds of thousands (Alaska), attacks are thought to be rare, flukes by rogue animals.

That, too, might be the explanation for why, on Tuesday, Dec. 19, a black bear was involved in not one, but two incidents in northern Minnesota – at a time when the animals should be well into hibernation. (For more details, see the Dec. 29 issue of Minnesota Outdoor News.) 

According to reports, authorities shot and killed a black bear Tuesday near Isabella after it injured two people and a dog in the two attacks earlier that day.

There have been reports of the very rare bear attack in Minnesota in the last 15 years or so. But the majority of those came in the summer, not during the typical hibernation period.

Tuesday’s incidents were reported just before 11 a.m., and Lake County Sheriff’s deputies shot the bear – about a 150-pound male, according to new reports – within about 100 yards of the scene of the second attack.

In Tuesday’s first incident, the bear attacked a dog, prompting the dog’s owner, Bill Vagts, to come to the rescue at Vagts’ residence near McDougal Lake, the reports said. Vagts, 68, jumped on the bear’s back but was thrown off and bitten in the abdomen; his dog, Darla, a 30-pound Corgi, also suffered bite wounds, the reports said, adding that, as of Wednesday, both were recovering.

The bear then reportedly moved 150 yards down the lakeshore to a cabin, where it encountered two carpenters: Daniel Boedeker, 58, and Gary Jerich, 54, according to reports. The bear reportedly came at Jerich, and when Boedeker tried to help, he was bitten on the arm. Like Vagts, Boedeker was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, reports said.

According to the Minnesota DNR website, there are roughly 20,000 black bears in Minnesota.

This summer, back-to-back fatal maulings of two people by two different black bears in Alaska appeared to be flukes by rogue animals, experts said at the time. Alaska easily leads all states with a black bear population of about 200,000.

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