Mother bear killed after attacking marathon runner in New Mexico

Animal advocates protest bear hunt

SANTA FE, N.M., June 20 (Reuters) - New Mexico game wardens on Monday tracked down and killed a black mother bear that had attacked a marathon runner this weekend in the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

The female runner was participating in an annual race through the 13-mile-wide (21-km-wide) dormant volcano when she apparently surprised the mother bear by coming between the animal and her three cubs, said Lance Cherry, a spokesman for the state Game and Fish Department.

"It was absolutely a chance encounter," Cherry said.

See photos of black bears

Black bears
See Gallery
Black bears
Viviane, an Asian black bear is back at home in the African reserve of Sigean on July 9, 2013 after 15 days of freedom when she escaped from her enclosure. The bear was not considered dangerous and was found at several kilometres north of the reserve. AFP PHOTO / RAYMOND ROIG (Photo credit should read RAYMOND ROIG/AFP/Getty Images)
A black bear scavenges for food beside tourists near the famous General Sherman tree at the Sequoia National Park in Central California on October 10, 2009. The Redwood trees which are native to California's Sierra Nevada Mountains are the world's largest by volume reaching heights of 274.9 feet (84.2 metres) and a ground level girth of 109 feet (33 metres). The oldest known Giant Sequoia based on it's ring count is 3,500 years old. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
CHENGDU, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 9: (CHINA OUT) A black bear sits in water at the Moon Bear Rescue Centre September 9, 2006 in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, China. Established in 2002, the center has saved about 185 bears from bear farms, where farmers milked their bile for profit and now it houses 168 bears. Financed by the AAF, Moon Bear Rescue Centre has cooperated with local governments to work towards the future of eliminating bear farming in China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, was flown by helicopter to an Albuquerque hospital, where she was treated for injuries not considered life-threatening and she has since been discharged, Cherry said.

Cherry said Game and Fish officials were able to track down and euthanize the mother bear because it was wearing a satellite tracking device as part of a larger bear study. The three cubs were still at large.

If the cubs are trapped, they will be taken to a local wildlife rehabilitation center, Cherry said, adding, "We want to give them the best chance for survival possible."

Cherry said that New Mexico state law requires that game officials kill any wildlife that bites a human because the animal has to be destroyed in order to be tested for rabies.

Brittney Van Der Werff, a spokeswoman for the Valles Caldera, said fewer than 100 runners were competing in the Saturday event, and some of the runners came to the aid of the woman who was attacked.

The Caldera, popular with game hunters and outdoor enthusiasts, was named a national preserve in 2014.

Cherry said that while the circumstances in this attack were unique, there were four bear attacks on humans in the state last year. (Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler)

Read Full Story