Lynn Kelly, 64, of Porter, Maine, was released from Memorial Hospital in North Conway, New Hampshire, last Friday evening after being treated for puncture wounds and a gash she sustained when a black bear bit her on the wrist that morning. But Kelly got her licks in, too. Just before the bite, she punched the bear in the nose to deter it from attacking her dog.
Kelly was gardening in her backyard at around 11:30 a.m. when she saw her dog, Scooby, bolt from the deck and run into the woods. “And the next thing I knew, I heard him scream, squealing,” she told WMUR9. “And so, I ran over… and kept calling him and calling him, and he finally came running back up. And right behind him was the bear. And the bear looked at me, and I looked at the bear. I think we both scared each other.”
But the bear kept running toward her, so Kelly hauled back and punch it right in the snout. The bear grabbed her wrist with its teeth, administering the gash and the puncture wounds, but let go immediately and then turned tail and ran back into the woods.
The bear was “a foot taller than I was and coming at me,” Kelly told WHDH 7News. “Then he stood up and I tried to make myself as big as I could and was screaming and yelling.”
While Kelly intervened on behalf of Scooby, she gives the dog credit, not her punch, for saving her. Referring to him as her “savior,” she explained that Scooby was jumping around and barking throughout the confrontation.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) said attacks like this, even in Maine, which has the largest black bear population in the US outside of Alaska, are rare. To prevent black bear conflicts, they recommend that, between April 1 and October 1, residents bring in bird feeders, store trash securely, clean grills, and empty grill grease cups after every use. And leash dogs.
The National Parks Service differentiates between how surprise black and grizzly bear attacks should be handled. For black bears, they advise the victim to “fight back with everything you have,” targeting the face with punches and kicks and using whatever weapons are available. For grizzlies, they recommend the opposite, “play dead and only fight back if the attack persists.”
The MDIFW set live-capture traps in the area, but there have been no sightings of the animal since it ran off. Some punch.