A Gilbert woman has been hospitalized and required surgery after she was attacked by a bear while walking her dog Tuesday in Pinetop.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department says the adult male black bear had been scavenging in a trash bin about 60 yards from the site of the attack, and the animal returned to attack Lana Hollingsworth, 61, more than once before a passing motorist scared it away.
Agents with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division used dogs to track the bear and kill it within hours of the attack several hundred yards away.
“This was an especially aggressive, unprovoked attack that reminds us that wildlife can be unpredictable,” said Game and Fish director Larry Voyles. “This was a predatory attack and the animal was considered extremely dangerous. The department had to dispatch it for the public’s safety.”
Game and Fish Department is examining the bear to confirm it is the same animal that attacked the woman. Officials do not believe it is afflicted by any disease, but testing will be conducted to be sure.
Voyles said his agency doesn’t believe the attack is related to recent wildfires in northeastern Arizona, although it could be related to continued drought conditions.
“Bears are easily drawn to human food sources, like Dumpsters, trash cans and campsites especially during times of drought,” he said. “Game and Fish strongly reminds residents living in bear country to be aware of bears in their area and to properly dispose of all food sources in secure containers.”
The state says bear attacks on humans are rare, with only six cases documented in Arizona since 1990, the earliest year in the department’s database.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.