Victim in Longwood bear mauling says 'bear was trying to kill me'
Updated On: Jan 01 2014 09:33:17 AM EST
Officials released the report on Tuesday into the bear mauling of a Longwood woman earlier this month, shedding light onto the woman's account of the mauling.
Susan Chalfant told Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Conservation investigators the bear was focused on her and not her two dogs that she was walking when a bear flew towards her and snarled and growled, according to the report.
"That bear was trying to kill me, it just kept coming," Chalfant told officials.
The report also states the bear circled Chalfant 180 degrees, cutting off her escape route, knocked her down and bit her face as Chalfant fought the bear with her hands, trying to hit and gouge its eyes. The bear continued to bite, shake and release Chalfant, according to investigators.
"What happened was a tragedy to the nicest person in the neighborhood, but it doesn't have to change such a beautiful place to live," said Stephani Taylor, who lives next door to Chalfant.
"Susan is a one hundred percent honest, truthful and a level-headed woman," she said.
Taylor believes Chalfant didn't do anything wrong - it was just the "perfect storm," she said, when Chalfant crossed the bear and her cubs with her two dogs.
In the report investigators write, "while the victim apparently did nothing to intentionally provoke the bear, it is possible that Chalfant unknowingly posed some threat to the cubs in the mother bear's mind."
Since the attack, six bears were trapped, two were euthanized and the mama bear, who was identified as the bear that attacked Chalfant, was relocated to Busch Gardens with her two cubs, both of whom were also trapped.
The report states that Chalfant didn't allow investigators to photograph her injuries, but officers described them as "deep-ragged lacerations on the face and head" and that it looked like they could have been from a bear's teeth.
For more information about Florida black bears, visit MyFWC.com/Bear.