Central Florida woman survives bear attack

December 3, 2013 

This picture was taken last month in the same area where a woman was attacked Monday night. Officials have not confirmed if this is the same bear. BAY NEWS 9 PHOTO.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers gave an update Tuesday afternoon on a bear attack on a Seminole County woman who was out walking her dog Monday night.

Below is a running account of the highlights from a 1:20 p.m. news conference:

1:30 p.m.

Parker confirms someone in the neighborhood was feeding foxes, but she said she stopped six months ago.

Salberg said feeding bears is a second-degree misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500.

1:25 p.m.

Parker explains each bear complaint is taken on a case-by-case basis.

Parker says the best thing to do if you are confronted by a bear is to make yourself look as "big" as you possibly can, and yell at the bear to make as much noise as you can as you move to a safer area.

1:22 p.m.

Parker said traps are being set up around the area to attempt to catch the bear.

She said there were 707 bear reports in 2012 in the Seminole County area. From Jan. 1–Sept. 18, 2013, there have been 209 bear complaints.

Parker said they are talking with neighbors to remind them of the rules on securing their trash.

FWC Officer Lenny Salberg said investigators cannot interview the victim at this time because of her condition.

1:20 p.m.

FWC Officer Karen Parker explains a woman was seriously injured by a bear around 8 p.m. in Longwood. The victim [identified earlier as Susan Chalfont, 54] remains in the hospital.

Parker said the bear knocked the woman to the ground while she was walking her two dogs. Neighbors ran to help the woman after the bear left.


Previous update

The attack happened just after 8 p.m. on English Ivy Court in Longwood off Markham Woods road, about a mile west of Wekiva Springs State Park and near a popular fitness trail.

FWC said Susan Chalfant, 54, was able to get away and ran to a neighbor’s home who called 911. Seminole County Fire Rescue rushed Chalfant, who suffered facial wounds and heavy bleeding, to Orlando Regional Medical Center. The dog was not hurt.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers set up traps in the area to try and catch the bear. FWC along with Seminole County Sheriff’s Office deputies searched for the bear.

Bear sightings are frequent in the neighborhood which is located next to the Wekiva River conservation area. Hundreds of people bike, walk and run on the Wekiva fitness trail that runs right by where this attack happened.

Florida Fish and Wildlife said a bear threatening a human is rare.

From 1980 to 2012, only 1 percent of bear encounters involved a bear threatening a human.

Most of the encounters involving seeing a bear in the area, in a yard or in a tree (38 percent), or seeing a bear rummaging in the garbage (31 percent).

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