Mother Bear Killed By Wildlife Officials After Attacking Marathon Runner In New Mexico

A mother bear that attacked a marathon runner in New Mexico over the weekend was killed by wildlife officials on Monday.

KOAT 7 in Albuquerque reports that New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officers tracked and euthanized the bear responsible for attacking a woman running in a marathon Saturday afternoon in the Valles Calderas National Preserve near Los Alamos.

A marathon runner startled a mother bear after her cub ran up a nearby tree. She was bitten and scratched multiple times but suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

A necropsy will be performed on the bear to determine if she had rabies. State law requires any animals that bite or scratch a human be tested for the disease at the Veterinary Diagnostic Services center.

“It is regrettable when a wildlife encounter results in human injuries and requires we euthanize the animal,” Department Director Alexandra Sandoval said in a statement. “We are thankful that the injuries sustained by the victim were not worse and are hopeful that she is able to recover quickly.”

When the woman was attacked by the bear, other runners rushed to her aid until help arrived. The animal was tracked down by wildlife officials not far from where the victim was attacked. The bear was part of a larger study on wild bears. She was collared with a GPS tracking device, which directed officers to her exact location.

According to Reuters, the three cubs belonging to the mother bear that was killed are still at large. Fish and Game Wildlife spokesman Lance Cherry said when the young are found, they’ll be transported to a local wildlife rehabilitation center. Cherry said they want to give the cubs “the best chance of survival possible.”

Brittney Van Der Werff, a spokeswoman for the Valles Caldera, confirmed that about 100 runners were competing in the Saturday event. The bear attacked was best described as a “chance encounter.”

Cherry emphasizes that circumstances in this bear attack were unique and that there were four bear attacks on humans in New Mexico last year.

Karen Williams, the woman attacked by the mother bear during the marathon, wrote on her Facebook page that she thought she “might die.” The runner said it happened when she “hit a little rise” in a mucky area that was about 15-feet from where the bear was standing. She noticed a bear cub and that’s when the mother bear started charging towards her. She put her arms up at the bear, but proved futile.

“I was on my [rear] and being raked with claws and bitten,” Williams wrote.

The runner continued in her post that she “cried out in pain and Mama bear did not like that so she hit me with a left hook and bit my neck and started to try to shake me.” Williams shared that she “rolled into a ball and played dead.”

Her strategy worked. She added that the cub “cried a bit while trying to get down the tree” and that “mama bear kept glancing my way to make sure that I was still ‘dead.’ I was at that point afraid I might die.”

A series of unfortunate events involving the encounter of wild animals and humans has led to the animals’ death. Over Memorial Day weekend, Harambe the gorilla was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 3-year-old boy entered his enclosure. The gorilla was dragging the boy through water intermittently between times of appearing protective over the child. Last week, an alligator at Florida’s Disney World snatched a toddler at a resort lake, killing him through drowning. Wildlife officials are on the hunt to kill that reptile as well.

A public outcry has emerged that the hapless mix of humans and animals spells doom for the latter.

Many are upset that the mother bear who attacked the marathon runner was killed, subjecting her cubs to harm or possibly living in captivity until they can be released again.

[Image via Shutterstock]