INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Min. “A black bear killed a Minnesota woman on a secluded island in Canadian waters in an attack that is rarely called by experts.
Catherine Sweet-Muller, 62, of Maple Plain, was staying with her parents in a remote cabin on Red Pine Island in Rain Lake when she was killed, Ontario Provincial Police said.
Police Officer Jim Davis said Sweet-Mueller went outside on Sunday night when she heard her two dogs bark, but that she never returned, the Star Tribune reported.
The dogs, one of them injured, returned to the cabin. Her parents, who are in their 80s, were also on the island, and her mother called police, Davis said.
Davis told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he could not say what caused the attack. While authorities usually handle complaints of bears that take root through the rubbish in the summer in the fall, he said there are no reports of bears attacking people.
"The family, of course, is very devastated," Davis said. "The officers at the scene were pretty devastated to deliver the news … We can't believe a bear attacked a man."
The bear was sent for testing at the University of Guelph, and necropsy – an autopsy of the animals – would be performed to determine if there were any physical causes of the bear's abnormal behavior, according to a statement by Maimoona Dinani, a liaison officer media at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests. No one witnessed the attack, Dinany said.
"Attacks of this nature are extremely rare and our hearts go out to the victim's family and friends," Dinany said. The last fatal attack on a bear in Ontario was in 2005.
Minnesota wildlife biologist Andy Three says that predatory attack by a black bear is "extremely rare."
An average fatal attack from a black bear occurs about once. year across North America, said Dave Garshelis, a bear research scientist at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Deaths from the more aggressive grizzly bear, which has a narrower range than the black bear, occur about twice a year in North America, Garshelis said.
Black bears tend to scare around people, Garshelis said. "They are very non-aggressive bears," he said. "If you ever get close to a black bear, they will usually see you and run away."
But bears can become aggressive to dogs and can feed after a dog that has been walked by its owner, Garshelis said.
Red Pine Island is located about 10 miles northeast of International Falls, Minnesota. Davis said the island is owned by the Swat-Müller family, who are the only residents and is only accessible by boat, from a 20-minute to half-hour ride.