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DNR kills bear believed to be responsible for mauling

TENNERTON – The black bear believed to have been responsible for mauling a 66-year-old woman at her residence on Overlook Drive in the early morning hours of May 31 has been killed, a West Virginia Division of Natural Resources official confirmed Tuesday.

Natural Resources police officer Tanner Collins said a bear that matched the size and description of the bear involved in the mauling of Opal Gillespie was spotted within 900 yards of the place the mauling occurred.

A DNR representative received a call about the bear Friday evening, June 7. He responded to investigate, and shot the bear.

“The DNR representative received a call about it, and it was taken within 900 yards of where the incident took place,” Collins said.

So, what happens next?

Collins said the DNR collected DNA from the bear Friday night, and that evidence will be sent to an outside agency that will determine whether it’s the same bear responsible for the May 31 mauling.

The bear was an adult, Collins added.

Following the May 31 incident, the DNR set three or more traps in the Overlook Drive area in an effort to catch the bear responsible for injuring Gillespie and killing one of her dogs.

Bears were also spotted within city limits, but Collins said no traps are set in the bounds of the City of Buckhannon. Those animals were last seen headed away from town, and Collins said no other bears have been sighted in the city over the last week.

“Regarding the bears from [last] Monday, two of them crossed the river past the bowling alley and headed out 151 (Old Elkins Road) east,” Collins said. “Every time one of them was seen, they grabbed another gear and kept on running.”

“Bears are more scared of humans,” he added, “and as of right now, we have not had any reports of any other bears in or around town.”

Collins is also a part-time police officer with the Buckhannon Police Department.

He said Capt. Doug Benson with the W.Va. DNR and a district wildlife biologist spoke with Gillespie’s family late last week, and she is home recovering. Collins said the DNR is still investigating the mauling.

“We are still conducting an investigation at this time,” he said.

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