Connecticut Boy, 10, Mauled by Bear in Backyard

Grandfather rolled wheelchair over, threw metal bar at animal
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2022 6:55 PM CDT
Connecticut Boy, 10, Mauled by Bear in Backyard
Stock photo of a black bear.   (Getty Images/Mark Lee)

A 10-year-old boy in Connecticut is recovering from injuries sustained in a terrifying bear attack Sunday morning. The boy was playing in his grandparents' backyard in Morris, about 45 miles southwest of Hartford, when the black bear attacked him and tried to drag him away, CBS reports. Grandfather James Butler, who uses a wheelchair, tells the Republican American that the bear emerged from thick woods behind the house when the boy was playing near a trampoline. He says he wheeled his chair toward the bear and threw a metal bar at its head. The bear let go of the boy but then grabbed him a second time and tried to roll him onto his back, Butler says. He says they escaped to the house after a neighbor came to the rescue, but the bear looked at them through a screen door, and they were afraid it would burst through.

The neighbor, Jonathan Digimas, says he ran to help when he heard the boy saying "bear, bear, bear" and Butler shouting for help. "First thing I could find was a steel pipe ... I picked up the pipe and I threw it at the bear, I struck it in the head," Digimas tells NBC Connecticut. "My neighbor and my neighbor's wife brought the little boy, their grandson, inside. He was bleeding from his foot, and he had claw marks all over his back." Digimas says the bear had been trying to drag the boy into the woods and "luckily my neighbor did strike the bear with a crowbar first." The boy was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries including a puncture wound on his thigh and bite marks on his foot and ankle. The 250-pound bear was shot dead by police.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says Connecticut's bear population has been growing—and expanding its range—in recent years. Authorities say that while attacks are still rare, food-conditioned bears are becoming a problem. When a bear has lost its fear of people and associates them with food, "that makes a large animal that has learned very bad behavior, is wild and very unpredictable," says Jenny Dickson, director of DEEP's Wildlife Division. Authorities say this is the most aggressive bear attack they have seen this year. CBS reports that nobody was injured last month when a bear crashed a 2-year-old's birthday party in Hartford. The animal devoured cupcakes before departing. (More bear attack stories.)

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