2013-08-22 / Outdoors

Bear may be linked to attack

WEXFORD COUNTY – A bear shot Saturday in Wexford County’s Selma Township may be linked to last Thursday’s attack on a 12-yearold girl, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced recently.

According to the DNR, conservation officers Sam Koscinski and Holly Pennoni arrived to the scene Saturday of a bear complaint at approximately 11:30 p.m. The two discovered that a man had shot and wounded a bear on his property because he perceived the bear to be a threat to his life.

Koscinksi and Pennoni subsequently tracked the bear and shot and killed the animal at approximately 2:45 a.m. Sunday.

The bear was killed about two miles from the area of a bear attack on Abby Wetherell, 12, that occurred Aug. 15, in Haring Township, Wexford County. It is uncertain whether the bear killed Sunday is the same bear involved the attack. Wetherell underwent surgery at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. She was released from the hospital on Sunday and is now recovering at her Haring Township home.

The bear’s carcass has been sent to the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory in Lansing for DNA and disease testing. The animal will be checked against fur and other DNA samples lifted from Abby’s clothing and from the area of Thursday’s attack. Because of the difficulty of extracting DNA evidence and the time required for processing tests, results will take several days.

The bear killed Sunday may not be the animal responsible for Thursday’s attack. The DNR will continue to keep bear traps in the area of the attack and to monitor bear activity in the area.

The DNR asks the public to report bear sightings in the area of the attack. Reports can be made to the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) Hotline, (800) 292-7800, or the department’s Cadillac Operations Service Center at (231) 775-9727. The black bear is a protected species under Michigan law. The public is reminded not to shoot a bear unless the animal poses an immediate threat.

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