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Bear circled and swatted his beagle. Owner punched the bear in the nose, Michigan cops say

A Boyne Falls, Michigan, man who found his pet beagle being circled and swatted by a bear punched the bear in the nose and kicked it as he pulled his injured beagle in the house by its lead, Michigan conservations officers say.
A Boyne Falls, Michigan, man who found his pet beagle being circled and swatted by a bear punched the bear in the nose and kicked it as he pulled his injured beagle in the house by its lead, Michigan conservations officers say. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Just a few minutes after a Michigan man let his dog out in the morning, he came back to bring the dog in — and found his pet locked in a life-or-death struggle.

His beagle had been outside on a cable around 4:30 a.m. earlier this month, according to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources report on the incident. But a bear was “running up his driveway” when the man went to retrieve the pet from his yard in Boyne Falls, Michigan, conservation officer Andrea Erratt said.

As the dog barked at the wild animal, the bear began to circle the pet and swat at it, the man told Erratt, according to the report. At that point the dog’s owner began to “frantically” tug at the cable to bring the dog back inside to safety, the report said.

The leash was too tangled, though — and to untangle it and get the dog away from the bear, the owner kicked the bear, the conservation officer said.

At that point, the bear went back to the dog and bit it, conservation officers said. That’s when the owner really fought back: He “punched the bear in the nose,” according to the report.

And it worked.

The bear started to fall back — just enough that the dog’s owner could drag the injured pet to safety and shut the door, Erratt said in the report.

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Wounds the bear inflicted on the beagle’s side and rear end required several stitches, according to the conservation officer . The incident happened in the northern reaches of lower Michigan.

Erratt offered the dog’s owner advice to prevent a similar situation from happening: Remove all bird feeders, quit putting out corn for deer and turkeys in the yard, scatter moth balls around and pick up any sunflower seed husks, she said.

Black bears' behavior is "sometimes unpredictable," according to the National Park Service. But the agency says that most human encounters with bears end safely.

Rangers advise anyone who ends up on the wrong side of a black bear to talk to it so the animal knows you're a human, not prey. Shouting or suddenly moving could encourage the animal to attack, according to the National Park Service.

Playing dead isn't a good idea with a black bear, the agency says. And if an immediate escape isn't feasible, rangers suggest kicking or striking the bear's muzzle and face with whatever object is at hand.

"Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you," rangers say. "They usually just want to be left alone."

Tell that to the beagle.

Seeing a wild animal in the backcountry can be an incredible experience. But knowing how to behave in an encounter scenario might make all the difference. Denali NPS provides safety tips for encounters with bears, wolves, and moose.

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