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DNR kills bear, but grandfather questions whether it was right one

8:43 AM, Aug 19, 2013   |    comments
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Abby Wetherell - attacked by a bear near Cadillac

DETROIT FREE PRESS - The grandfather of the 12-year-old Wexford County girl attacked by a black bear doesn't think the animal the Michigan Department of Natural Resources killed over the weekend is the right one.

"It was a real large bear," said Dave Wetherell, 66, on Sunday. "But I don't believe it was the same bear. This one here was between 400-500 pound, the one they killed last night. They feel like the one who attacked Abby was 150 pounds."

Abigail Wetherell was attacked Thursday while she was out running on the approximately 180 acres her paternal grandparents own in Haring Township , near Cadillac. Her screams summoned help and the bear was chased away.

She suffered serious cuts and puncture wounds and was released from Munson Medical Center in Traverse City on Sunday.

Michigan conservation officers Sam Koscinski and Holly Pennoni killed a bear around 2:45 a.m. Sunday after responding to a bear complaint about 11:30 p.m. in nearby Selma Township. A man had shot and wounded the animal on his property "because he perceived the bear to be a threat to his life," according to a DNR press release issued Sunday.

"We don't know if that's the bear that hurt her," DNR spokesman Ed Golder said Sunday evening. "We're going to evaluate through forensic tests."

The paw prints were similar, he said.

Fur samples from the bear, which was killed approximately two miles from where the girl was attacked, will be matched at the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory in Lansing against DNA samples taken from Abigail's clothing and the scene.

The DNR is keeping bear traps in the vicinity and monitoring bear activity in the area.

Regardless, Abigail is happily home.

"She's in high spirits," her grandfather said. "She's really sore, but nothing but a bunch of smiles. She understands she was in a lot of danger and she beat it. She's very strong person."

Nor will the terror of the bear attack keep the Cadillac Junior High School seventh-grader from running.

"I don't think it will hold her down, but I don't think she'll run to our cabin anymore" Wetherell said. "She realizes that's why the bear chased her, because she was running.

A group of friends and neighbors from the Pine Knoll subdivision where she lives turned out Sunday to welcome her home with balloons and signs and "screaming and hollering," Wetherell said. Equally glad to see her are her young sister, Jessie, and the family's three dogs and one cat.

Michigan is home to about 8,000-10,000 black bears, 90% of which live in the Upper Peninsula, according to the DNR. The area of Wexford County where Thursday's attack occurred does have an established bear population.

Detroit Free Press

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