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Woman suffers non-life threatening injuries in Butler Township bear attack

Butler Township woman attacked by bear
Butler Township woman attacked by bear 01:41

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A woman in Butler County injured after being attacked by a bear on Tuesday night.

The attack happened around 8:30 p.m. along Bellefield Drive in Butler Township when police say the woman was outside walking her dog.

The woman was taken to Butler Memorial Hospital by medics and dispatchers told KDKA-TV that her injuries were not life-threatening. Her attending physician said she has a "fair amount" of puncture wounds on the back of her neck and arms and pretty significant lacerations to her scalp. She also broke her nose.

Woman shares her story of survival

The victim Lee Ann Galante is recovering in the hospital after she was mauled. 

"It was very terrifying," she said. "I honestly didn't think I was going to make it. I couldn't believe this was happening." 

Galante said when the bear set its eyes on her, she had no escape. She said the bear came up from behind and pushed her down. 

"Then she got me by the back of the head and she was pulling so hard on it I thought I was going to get scalped," she said. 

Galante thinks her dog distracted the bear, buying her the time she needed to get inside and survive. 

How frequent are bear attacks in Western Pennsylvania? 

Butler Township Police Sergeant Thomas Vensel said this type of attack is a first for him and the area.

"Talked to some people that they've been seeing them in the area," Sgt. Vensel said. "Obviously, there was a bird feeder up here that was knocked down. We've had warm weather lately, so I'm assuming these animals are out and about."

Game Commission officers were also called and Wildlife Regional Director Jesse Bish said that they found a mother bear along with the three cubs in a tree.

A woman was injured in a bear attack outside her home in Butler Township.  KDKA Photojournalist Gerome Williams

What happened to the bear in Butler Township?

The mother bear was euthanized after they say she became aggressive. The cubs were tranquilized and taken away. 

"Generally with wildlife encounters and our residents in Pennsylvania, it's very enjoyable," Bish said. "This is something we don't look forward to investigating and we hope the victim is okay."

It is not known at this time which bear attacked the woman.

"It's kind of hard to tell whether one of them wasn't one that grabbed ahold of the victim also, so we may decide to euthanize those three also, just for the safety of the public," Bish said.

If the cubs aren't euthanized, Bish said they'll be tagged and transferred to somewhere more remote like the game lands in the Allegheny National Forest, but said that they're leaning towards euthanizing the cubs.

Bish said that if you do encounter a bear, don't run. 

"You're gonna want to make some loud noises to make your presence known and try to scare them away," Bish said. "If you run, that would potentially enact the bear to go into a chase mode rather than be scared and run away from you."

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