Many people don’t think about the possibility that they might run into a bear — or vice versa — when they take their dogs out for a walk in their neighborhood, but that’s one possibility that will forever haunt one woman from DeBary, Florida.
Aydee ran, and her dogs ran off, but the bear caught up to her.
“When I realized it, she got me here,” Aydee told WOFL-TV. “But I took off running, and she took running behind me.
“I was screaming going to my neighbor’s to see if he, you know, he can call 911 or help me or, or I don’t know — take the gun out, whatever.”
The bear had three yearling cubs in a tree nearby, and after attacking Aydee, was treed by several neighbors who responded to the woman’s cries.
Neighbor Awston Kennedy had spotted the bear, a familiar sight in the area, shortly before the attack in the trees in front of his house. It was checking out some trash and then was shooed away by some other neighbors.
“Next thing you know there’s pounding on the door,” Kennedy said. “There was about four of us came out to check on her pretty quick … Her main concern was her dog.
“They had it cornered in the tree for a bit with dome lights trying to make sure it didn’t come out,” Kennedy said of the other neighbors who responded. “One of the neighbors actually came out with his jeep and threw the spotlights on it.”
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the bear was dispatched on the scene.
“Volusia County Sheriff’s Officers arrived on the scene and found an adult female bear with yearlings in a tree nearby,” a statement by the FWC read. “EMS arrived on the scene to treat the woman’s injuries, which were not life threatening. The woman’s dog was not injured.
“FWC bear biologists darted the adult bear in the tree and humanely killed it per the FWC policy to protect public safety. The three 100-pound yearlings are old enough to survive on their own and so no attempt was made to capture them.”
Aydee’s dogs were found later, unharmed, but Aydee suffered from bites and scratches on her face and back, as well as a concussion and twisted ankle. Some of her wounds required stitches.
“The worst [experience] of my life,” she told WESH-TV. “Like, you know you go through stuff in life, but this is like the worst. No. 1, I would say … I feel lucky to be alive.”
Aydee also isn’t happy that the yearlings were left in the same area instead of being relocated.
“I’m an animal lover too, but those are not a friend,” she said. “She was trespassing my house. I was not in her territory. Two more years and we will be in the same boat.”
Despite the victim’s insistence that the bear was out of line, some locals are upset the bear was killed as she’s been a staple in the neighborhood for over seven years and has reportedly never been an issue before.
“Unfortunately, the neighbor got scratched up by the bear,” local David Mangham said. “She’s fortunate to be alive, I guess, but as far as euthanizing it, why not relocate it?”
After this incident, a petition has been circulating to get the “FWC to change their ‘Aggressive Bear’ killing policy,” according to a post by Bear Defenders on Facebook.
“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has an ‘Aggressive Bear’ killing policy that does not consider the circumstances that cause bears to act aggressively,” the post read.
“There are humane and non-lethal ways to handle these situations. The FWC kills bears who act in self-defense or are defending their cubs. If a bear indeed attacked, it would result in severe injuries and even death, yet NO ONE in the State of Florida has ever died from a bear attack.
“If bears are in residential areas, they are most likely there because of unsecured trash and other bear attractants. We believe in self-defense, including a black bear’s right to defend her cubs. We wish the FWC would take into account what triggered the defensive (aggressive) response from the bear before labeling them aggressive and killing them as a result of human error.”
According to the FWC’s Bear Management Coordinator Davis Telesco, killing the bear was a sad necessity.
“We can’t have bears living in neighborhoods that are willing to hurt somebody,” he said. “We just can’t allow it.”
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