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Bear mauls woman when she opens back door to let her dogs out, West Virginia cops say

A 66-year-old woman in Upshur County, West Virginia, was bitten and clawed by a black bear she startled on her back deck early Friday.
A 66-year-old woman in Upshur County, West Virginia, was bitten and clawed by a black bear she startled on her back deck early Friday. AP photo

A 66-year-old West Virginia woman was hospitalized before dawn Friday after she was attacked by a bear on the deck of her home, reported WBOY.

Opal Gillespie of Upshur County had stepped outside with her two dogs when she “turned to go back in doors” and came face-to-face with what authorities believe was a black bear, according to WBOY.

Capt. Douglas Benson with the state’s Division of Natural Resource says the attack occurred around 1:30 a.m. at the woman’s backdoor — and that he believes the bear was startled and trying to escape when it mauled Gillespie and both her dogs, reported WDTV. One of the two dogs was killed in the attack, the station reported.

Gillespie had surgery Friday at an area hospital, reported MetroNews.com.

“Every indication is now, listening to the surgeon, she’s going to make a full recovery,” Benson told MetroNews.com.

Her injuries included bites, scratches, bruises and “severe lacerations” to the head and neck, according to MyBuckannon.com.

Gillespie lives in the unincorporated Tennerton area south of Buckhannon, the county seat in Upshur County. The area is about 115 miles northeast of the state capital of Charleston.

State officials said images of a bear in the backyard were caught by a surveillance camera and it is suspected the bear was raiding bird feeders just prior to the attack, reported The Record Delta.

A team of trackers arrived during the night and used dogs to try and trap the bear in a tree, but it escaped, the news outlet reported. Despite being young, the black bear likely weighed about 150 pounds, reported WCHS/WVAH.

Once a bear has been caught and its DNA matched to the attack on Gillespie, it “will be destroyed to prevent any further problems,” Benson told The Record Delta.

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