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Bear attacks woman hiking at Douthat State Park

Posted at 2:31 PM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-18 14:33:39-04

CLIFTON FORGE, Va. — Park rangers have closed trails at Douthat State Park in Clifton Forge, Virginia after a bear attacked a woman Sunday night.

“We have had an incident involving a hiker and a bear. The incident is being investigated by DCR and DGIF. Trails will remain closed until further notice,” rangers posted on the park’s website.

The woman, who encountered the black bear while walking her dogs, suffered non-life threatening injuries, WDBJ reported.

Rangers spent Monday setting traps and searching for the bear.

Douthat is about a three-hour drive on Interstate 64 west from Richmond.

In August 2015, a Midlothian woman was attacked by a bear in the same park while she was hiking with her family.

Laurie Cooksey suffered bite marks, bruises, and large scratches from the bear’s claws. She required 28 stitches.

“I didn’t think I was going to live beyond that day,” Cooksey said following the 2015 attack.

Her children helped stop the attack on their mom.

“They took their walking sticks and just jumped up and down and yelled as loud as they could,” Cooksey said. “I don’t have a lesson, I wish I did, you can’t be prepared to get attacked by a bear.”

Experts offered the following if you were to encounter a bear in the wild.

“In almost all cases, a black bear will detect you and leave the area before being noticed,” the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries posted online.

The department added some suggestions if the bear does not leave:

Do not run. Running could prompt the bear to chase. If in a group, stay together and make sure that your dog stays leashed.

If the bear hasn’t seen you, calmly leave the area, while making a bit of noise so the bear will not be surprised by you.

If the bear has seen you, back away slowly while facing the bear. Speaking softly may also let the bear know you mean no harm.

In the unlikely event that a black bear attacks you, fight back. Black bears have been driven away with rocks, sticks and even bare hands.

This is a developing story.