The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A Florida woman went on a night walk with her dog. A black bear attacked her: ‘I feel lucky to be alive.’

Police officers responded to reports of a woman being attacked by a bear while walking her dog in DeBary, Fla., on Jan. 13. (Video: The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

Last week, a Central Florida woman was feet away from her home as she returned from a nighttime walk around the neighborhood with her dog.

But the woman, who identified herself only as “Aydee” to local news outlets, didn’t make it inside her one-story house in DeBary, north of Orlando, WESH reported.

The minute Aydee and her dog reached the driveway, a black bear she didn’t see coming chased after her. Aydee tried to sprint as fast as she could to safety, but the bear eventually tackled her, she told the news station.

“I took off running that way and then she was running behind me. She grabbed me by my shoulders and … I fell to the ground,” Aydee recounted. Neighbors alerted by her screams soon came to her rescue.

The adult bear ran away, leaving Aydee with scrapes and bite marks but no life-threatening injuries, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said in a news release. Her dog wasn’t injured.

Only one type of bear resides in the Sunshine State: the Florida black bear, also known as Ursus americanus floridanus. The FWC estimates there are approximately 4,050 black bears living in the state.

Bear attacks are extremely rare in Florida. According to data collected by the FWC, which started keeping records in 1976, this is the 14th documented black bear attack against a person resulting in moderate to serious injuries.

The last time a bear attacked someone in Florida was in March 2020, according to the FWC. On that occasion, a teen was bitten by a bear as he was leaning against a tree in a park in Ocala.

The female bear that charged Aydee on Jan. 13 had been wandering around the neighborhood before it went after her, neighbor Austin Kennedy told WESH.

Minutes before the attack, the bear, which had three 100-pound cubs, climbed down from a pine tree and attempted to go after a man and a woman across the street, Kennedy said.

“[They] scared the bear, and then … the bear ran that way and attacked the lady,” Kennedy told WESH.

The FWC and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office arrived around 9 p.m. Body-camera footage shows a puzzled Aydee recounting the attack to multiple officers outside her home. In the video, at least two large scratches can be seen on her face.

“Can you tell me where you are hurting at?” an officer asked.

“Only here and my back,” Aydee said, pointing to her face. “[She] kind of jumped on me when I was running and threw me to the floor.”

Soon after interviewing Aydee, officers spotted an adult female bear with its young offspring in a nearby tree, the FWC said in a news release. FWC bear biologists fired darts at the adult bear and euthanized it, per FWC policy.

“The three 100-pound yearlings are old enough to survive on their own and so no attempt was made to capture them,” the agency said in a statement.

Aydee received treatment for a concussion, scratches on her face, and bites and scratches on her lower back, WESH reported.

“I feel lucky to be alive,” Aydee said.

Loading...