Bear mauls woman and her dog

TENNERTON — A 66-year-old Tennerton woman is recovering from injuries she sustained from an unfortunate encounter with a black bear in her yard early this morning. 

Opal Gillespie was letting her two small house dogs out at approximately 1:30 a.m. when she found herself in a precarious position between the bear and his escape back to the woods, according to West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Captain Doug Benson.

“She surprised it when she came outside,” Benson stated.  He explained that she wasn’t really attacked in the sense that the bear wanted to kill her, but rather she was likely mauled as a result of being in its way while he was trying to flee her yard. 

Gillespie was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital for treatment of two significant lacerations on her head and another on her neck with some other scratches, bruising and possible bite marks.  Benson said she is expected to make a full recovery.  One of her dogs was killed in the incident, but the other ran away unharmed. 

A trail camera captured images of the bear in the home’s backyard, which were instrumental in identification and will be used for further confirmation once he is trapped.  It is believed that bird feeders on the deck attracted the bear to the home and he was likely grazing on others in the neighborhood as well.  It seems unlikely, but bears are attracted to any food source, so people need to be cautious.

Benson said they attempted to tree the bear with dogs last night but were unsuccessful.  They set a trap and plan to return today with more in effort to capture the bear that is believed to be a small yearling male.  Hair left behind at the scene will also be used to identify the bear once caught and he will be destroyed to prevent any further problems, according to Benson.


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