Bear Mauls Woman in Rural Kern County

CALIENTE, Calif. (AP) - A Kern County woman mauled by a bear underwent 10 hours of surgery and is expected to recover, her neighbor said Wednesday.

Allena Hansen, 57, was "lucid, active and probably pretty sore" after undergoing surgery Tuesday for serious cuts to her head and face, said August Dunning, who called her hospital room Tuesday night and spoke to her son. Dunning said he could hear his friend in the background.

"She's fine. She's talking," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

At the family's request, the hospital would not release the woman's condition or other information, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center spokeswoman Roxanne Moster said Wednesday.

Federal wildlife trackers were hunting for the bear, which was considered dangerous to humans and will be killed once it is captured, said Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.

The woman's shirt was taken for testing to see if fur or other evidence can identify the bear that attacked her, Martarano said.

That will help officials determine whether they capture the right bear, he said, noting that Fish and Game officials had yet to interview Hansen.

Hansen, who has a ranch in the tiny rural community of Twin Oaks, near Caliente, was walking in heavy underbrush on her property Tuesday morning with her dogs when she was attacked, Dunning said.

Her English mastiff may have tried to defend her, Dunning speculated, because it suffered some scratches. An Irish wolfhound was unhurt.

Kern County Fire Capt. Curt Merrill said Hansen told him that "a bear attacked her and her two dogs intervened."

After the attack, Hansen drove herself three miles to a fire station and was airlifted to the hospital.

"She came down blowing her horn, she was moving pretty good. And she pulls up and I saw her face all bloody. And she jumped out and said she was attacked by a bear," Bureau of Land Management Fire Battalion Chief Eddie Childs said.

"She had to rely on her dogs and her wits," Dunning said.
"She's one tough woman."

Dunning said the attack took place very close to a recent wildfire and speculated that damage from it may have pushed the bear into new territory.

"We just had 30,000 acres burn out here and those animals are looking for habitat," he said.

The bear may have attacked to defend that new territory, he said.

Dogs also sometimes provoke bear attacks by inadvertently getting between a mother bear and her cubs, said Harry Morse, another state fish and game spokesman.

The attack was the 13th reported in California since 1980. Records indicate that the last attack in Kern County took place in August 1988 in the Piute Mountains when a female with two cubs attacked and injured a camping couple.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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