A 63-year-old grandmother can be heard begging for her life with a 9-1-1 dispatcher as an enraged mother bear returned repeatedly to maul her Wednesday night, according to a recording released by the Frederick County Sherriff’s Department Thursday.
“Hurry. He’s broken my arms and my legs. I can’t move, and I’m bleeding, and I’m going to die,” said victim Karen Osborne on the recording.
The 9-1-1 dispatcher asked the woman again what attacked her as if he didn’t understand at first. The incident is the first bear attack in modern Maryland history.
The victim of the attack, Karen E. Osborne, was seriously injured with broken bones and more than 80 stitches, her son-in-law said. She was mauled repeatedly when she walked down the driveway of her daughter’s Frederick home in the 7900 block of Irongate Lane at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. According to her son-in-law Mark Snuffin, she went to investigate after the family dog began barking.
Wildlife officials believe Osbourne’s dog had chased one of the bear’s 3 cubs up a tree in the darkness.
The bear was shot to death by Maryland Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials Thursday morning.
The 193-pound sow had been radio collared by wildlife officials on September 1 after complaints that the bear and her three cubs had been marauding trash cans and bird feeders for much of the summer, doing significant damage to one resident’s chicken coop, according to Harry Spiker, Maryland’s state bear biologist.
Many residents had taken photos of the bear and cubs throughout 2016.
“She had a big scar on her shoulder and wasn’t able to use that one paw,” said Dick Klug. “I assume she’d been hit by a car at some point.”
Klug took photos of the sow and cubs after the bears wallowed in a decorative garden pond on his property during a heat wave in August.
Wildlife officials believe the bear attacked to defend one of its cubs, which had climbed a tree, according to Candus Thomson, spokesperson for Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police. She said there is no evidence the victim was attempting to harass or feed the bear.
“She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Snuffin.
The cub in the tree was tranquilized and recovered by wildlife officials. It survived the fall from the tree and has been released. The cub weighed 86 pounds and is expected to be able to survive on its own with the other two cubs.
The mother bear was sent for a necropsy, but the results are not yet complete, according to Thomson.
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Klug and other residents believe the bear had been frequenting the subdivision near the Gambrills State Park because the sow’s injuries made it too difficult for her to forage naturally.
“You could tell she was hurting,” Klug said.
But Spiker disagrees.
“She was fully capable despite that injury,” he said. “We’d actually witnessed her climbing a tree once.”
Spiker said the sow had evidence of good body fat going into the winter. He also said the sow had broken teeth, which is consistent with a previous impact with a car.
Maryland has approximately 2,000 bears living in the state’s westernmost counties. Hunters harvested 167 of them during a three-day season in October designed, in part, to cull the population. Bear hunting was allowed for the first time in Washington and Frederick Counties during the 2016 season. Eleven bears were killed in those counties combined, Spiker reported.