A 61-year-old Vermont woman was saved from a black bear that was biting her leg when her Jack Russell terrier started barking and drew the bear’s attention, according to a news release by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
Susan Lee told wildlife officials that she was walking on a trail on her property in Strafford on Aug. 20 with her two dogs, a Jack Russell terrier and a labradoodle, when she heard a “loud noise” and a black bear charged her, causing her to trip over a stone wall.
She then felt “pain on her upper left leg” and realized the bear had bitten her. The attack was halted when her Jack Russell terrier started barking at the bear.
The barking distracted the bear, which released Lee’s leg. She and her dogs were able to retreat further down the trail, where she called 911. A neighbor helped transport her to Gifford Medical Center, where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.
According to a news release, Lee had a bite wound on her left leg and multiple scratches ranging from two inches to nine inches long on both legs.
Wildlife officials determined the bear was a female with cubs that was provoked after being surprised by Lee and her dogs. They were unsuccessful in locating the bear.
Lee’s Jack Russell terrier did not suffer any injuries. The dog stayed safe by performing what Game Warden Sgt. Jeffrey Whipple described as “ninja moves” to USA Today.
“If I were to predict what would have happened if the dog wasn’t there, the bear may have caused more damage to (Lee),” Whipple said. “But most likely, when she was knocked down and was out of the fight, the bear would have got off of her and retreated.”
Vermont has one of the densest black bear populations in the country with approximately one bear for every three square miles, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department website.
There are about 6,000 in the state, and it’s the only type of bear found in Vermont. The animals are shy and rarely seen by people, making the attack on Lee “extremely rare,” Wildlife Department bear biologist Jaclyn Comeau said in the release. The department has only recorded three prior bear attacks in the state.
“However, at this time of year black bears are moving in family units and mothers will be protective of their cubs,” Comeau said in a statement. “If confronted by a bear it is essential to remain calm and back away slowly, and to fight back immediately if attacked.”