Vermont woman mauled by bear in yard while letting dog out

She was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.

November 4, 2022, 3:59 PM

A Vermont woman was mauled by a bear in her yard after letting her dog out, officials said.

The attack occurred Wednesday evening at a condominium complex in Winhall near Stratton Mountain Resort, in the Green Mountains.

The woman, identified as 43-year-old Sarah Dietl, had let her Shih Tzu out when the dog "immediately" chased a bear cub up a tree, according to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

"She described that the cub's mother subsequently charged her, knocked her to the ground, and began to maul her," the department said in a press release.

"She came running out of the dark. She ran right to me," Dietl told the Brattleboro Reformer. "It was terrifying."

Dietl called for help, and her partner was able to separate her from the bear, officials said. He smacked the bear in the head with a heavy-duty flashlight, the Reformer reported.

Once back inside their house, the bear "charged" at the door when they opened it for their dog, but they were able to prevent the animal from entering, officials said.

In this Feb. 1, 2013, file photo, a brown bear is shown in Fayston, Vermont.
UIG via Getty Images, FILE

They called 911 and Dietl was transported to a local hospital where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries to her head, hand and side and released on Thursday, officials said.

Since the attack, game wardens and biologists have continued to search the neighborhood for the bear and its cubs but have not yet found anything as of Friday, a spokesperson for the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department confirmed.

The couple's dog was found uninjured.

"Before letting pets out at night, I would urge Vermonters to light their yards and make plenty of noise to allow wildlife in the area time to move on," Kyle Isherwood, a game warden with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, said in a statement. "Along with securing food that could attract wildlife into a developed area, steps like this are important for the safety of people and wildlife."

During their investigation, game wardens and biologists learned that a female bear with cubs had been seen regularly in the area throughout the summer and fall. They also determined that a bear-proof dumpster on the property was damaged and "not being used properly," and that multiple decorative pumpkins outside the complex "showed signs of having been fed on by bears," the wildlife department said.

Bear attacks in Vermont are rare, though residents must take "every step" to avoid attracting bears, including securing food sources, Jaclyn Comeau, a wildlife biologist and the black bear project leader for the department, said.

"Increasingly bold and high-risk behavior from bears is due to Vermonters' failure to take the proactive steps needed for safely coexisting alongside a healthy black bear population," Comeau said in a statement.

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