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Woman survives attack by black bear



Published: Sat, August 6, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Unable to much affect the bear, Mary Munn weathered its ferocious attack.

By JAKE WEYER

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

DULUTH, Minn. -- Mary Munn rolled into a hospital conference room recently to recount her tale of good fortune, three days after surviving a black bear attack near her rural Holyoke, Minn., home.

Munn said she was walking near a beaver pond close to her home, 30 miles south of Duluth, on Friday afternoon when she spotted the bear about 30 feet away. It charged her immediately but did not attack, Munn, 50, said from a wheelchair at Monday's press conference at St. Mary's Medical Center.

When the bear charged a couple more times, Munn hit it with a stick and punched it in the nose. However, the bear attacked, knocking Munn down and biting and clawing her torso, arms and legs.

Her dog, a boxer named Maggie, distracted the bear at times. However, the 150- to 200-pound animal, which stood about 6 feet tall on its hind legs, might have charged a total of five times, Munn said.

The bear didn't even flinch when she punched it.

"[The punching] was totally ineffective," she said.

The attack, which lasted less than a minute, ended when the bear looked up and took off. Munn said Maggie might still have been running around and finally caused the bear to flee.

Treating her wounds

Seriously injured after suffering deep bites to her torso and limbs, Munn walked the quarter mile back to her empty house, called 911 and waited about 30 minutes outside for rescuers to come. She said she waited outside because she didn't want emergency personnel "trampin' through the house."

Munn's husband, John Magnuson, 52, and two sons, Carl Magnuson, 23, and Brad Magnuson, 22, joined her at the press conference, as did Dr. Kevin Stephan.

Stephan, an infectious disease specialist at St. Mary's, said that while there is no record of rabies being transmitted from a bear to a human, Munn is undergoing rabies vaccination anyway as a precaution.

Search for suspects

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said searches for the bear have been unsuccessful. If a bear is found matching the description Munn gave, it will be killed and examined to try to match its claws and teeth to Munn's wounds.

Munn said putting the bear down would be the right thing to do, though unfortunate if it turns out the animal was a female protecting nearby cubs.

Munn, who said the bear looked healthy, with sparkling eyes and a shiny coat, was reflective about the rare attack of a black bear on a human.

"To me, it's no different than being trampled by a horse," said Munn, who lives on 80 wooded acres and owns two horses.

Her brother, Kenny Munn, bought her a hat in the shape of a black bear's head at the hospital gift shop. She wore it briefly at the press conference.

"I'm 50," said Munn, who is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. "It will be another 50 years before another bear attacks me."




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