BEAR WEEK: Minnesota woman recounts black bear attack one year later

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Last year, Catherine Hanson was attacked by a black bear on the deck of her house in northern Minnesota.

The incident began with what is a pretty common occurrence in parts of Minnesota: bears visiting backyards looking for food.

Catherine had put out a wildlife camera on May 13, the very day she was attacked, hoping to see what had ripped down her birdfeeders. The camera didn’t capture the attack, but it did capture two bear cubs and their mother in the backyard. 

The mother attacked Catherine around 9 p.m. that night. The attack was so fast and vicious her memory of it is foggy at best.

“I went and let the dogs out and they started barking so I went out the door and called for them and when I stepped out there was a bear standing up,” Catherine told Fox 9.

The bear came at her twice before fleeing with her cubs. Catherine estimates the whole thing lasted about 10 seconds.

“I just got up. I was kind of wet. I didn't know at the time it was blood,” Catherine said.

The brief attack left Catherine with extensive injuries.

“I must have been fighting,” Catherine said. “Either that or I curled in a ball. I must have been fighting because my fingers were all bruised.”

Catherine will carry the physical scars from this bear attack for a lifetime, but a year after the attack, she's still working on the emotional ones.

“Walking down to the mailbox, I heard a tree crack and I get terrified,” Catherine said. “That's getting better too. So, I'm making progress."

But, why the black bear uncharacteristically went out of its way to attack her still haunts Catherine.

“I don't know why it came after me,” Catherine said. “I'm totally puzzled about that.Why it would make the effort to go 100 feet to get me vs. the dogs that were within 20 feet. I don't know. They couldn't explain it either when the DNR was here. They're just calling it ‘unprovoked’.”

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