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Black Bear Kills 6-Year-Old Girl

The child's mother and brother are expected to recover from the attack in a Tennessee forest.

April 15, 2006|From the Associated Press

BENTON, Tenn. — Authorities put out traps baited with honey buns and doughnuts Friday in hopes of capturing a potentially crazed black bear that killed a 6-year-old girl and mauled her mother and 2-year-old brother.

It was the second documented attack on a human by a black bear in the state's recent history, said state Wildlife Resources Agency spokesman Dan Hicks.

"There is a chance that the same bear would attack someone else, so I hope they do catch him," said Lynn Rogers of the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minn.

Black bears generally avoid humans, experts said. Rangers at the Cherokee National Forest, where the attack took place Thursday, said a disease, tumor or parasite might have made the animal more aggressive.

The 350- to 400-pound bear attacked the family at a waterfall near a campground after several adult visitors tried to drive it off the trail, Hicks said.

The bear bit the boy's head, then went after the child's mother after she tried to fend off the attack with rocks and sticks, Hicks said. The animal picked up the woman with its mouth and dragged her off the trail.

The girl apparently ran away, and almost an hour passed before rescuer Danny Stinnett found the bear hovering over her body about 100 yards off the trail.

Stinnett, a county fire and rescue chief, said he approached and was about 25 feet away when the bear charged him on all fours. He said he fired at the bear twice with his .380-caliber pistol, scaring it off.

The girl was identified by the U.S. Forest Service as Elora Petrasek. Her mother, Susan Cenkus, 45, of Clyde, Ohio, was in critical condition at a Chattanooga hospital, while her brother Luke Cenkus was upgraded to stable condition. Both are expected to recover.

Luke suffered a bite wound that punctured his skull, while his mother had eight puncture wounds to the neck and too many claw and tooth injuries to count elsewhere on her body, doctors said.

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