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Bear autopsy to determine death of Minnesota woman on remote Canadian island


A ferocious black bear, similar to this one, killed a Minnesota woman vacationing in Ontario, Canada. (Jillian Cooper/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Canadian officials revealed Thursday they intend to conduct a postmortem on the black bear that killed a vacationing Minnesota woman.

When Catherine Sweatt-Mueller failed to return to her Red Pine Island cabin Sunday night, her mother contacted police. Officers later discovered a 100-pound bear standing over the victim, reported Minneapolis TV station KARE.

The cause of Sweatt-Mueller’s death has not been confirmed, but cops fatally shot the beast they believe killed the 62-year-old woman.

Authorities are hopeful that the animal autopsy, which will occur at the University of Guelph, will shed light on why the animal attacked. It will also be tested for any potential abnormal behavior, said Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry spokeswoman Maimoona Dinani.

Police Constable Jim Davis referred to the ambush as a “unique accident” and something he has never witnessed in his 11 years patrolling the region.

Two other black bears acting aggressively were spotted nearby, Ontario Police Constable Jim Davis told BBC News. “One was snapping its gums, gritting its teeth, stomping.”

The creatures, which usually pose little threat to people, likely swam to the island, stated Canadian forestry officials.

“They’re very un-aggressive bears,” said Minnesota Department of Natural Resources bear research scientist Dave Garshelis. “If you ever approach a black bar closely, typically they’ll see you and run off.”

“Attacks of this nature are extremely rare,” acknowledged the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim.”

Red Pine Island, which is located on Rainy Lake in western Ontario, is approximately 280 miles north of Minneapolis.

The most recent lethal Ontario bear attack occurred in 2005, according to The Associated Press.