Woman killed by black bear on island north of Minnesota identified as Maple Plain resident

Updated: September 04, 2019 10:15 PM

Authorities have identified the woman who was killed by a bear on an island in a lake that straddles the border between Minnesota and Ontario, Canada as Catherine Mueller, of Maple Plain.

The 62-year-old woman was staying at a remote family cabin on Red Pine Island in Rainy Lake. The island, in Canadian waters, is about 10 miles northeast of International Falls.

Ontario Provincial Police said Mueller, who was staying with her parents from Minnesota, went outside when she heard her two dogs barking Sunday evening and never returned. Authorities said the parents called police who shot the bear after finding it standing over the woman's body.

"They heard dogs yelping or barking — the dogs returned to the cottage, the female didn't and the parents, grew concerned," said Ontario Provincial Police Constable James Davis.

It took police 30 minutes to respond by boat from Ft. Francis, Ontario to the island, which is about a quarter-mile over the Canadian border.

Davis said officers then found a bear on top of the woman. The bear was then shot and killed. Davis also said two other bears remain on the island, and conservation officers are trying to locate them and decide what to do with them.

"All I can say is wow," said Vonnette Mills, a friend of Mueller's. "It sounds like something so rare, that doesn't happen, we're kind of in shock."

Mills told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Mueller's family is well known on Rainy Lake as they've been coming seasonally for decades. Mills said she and Mueller would talk about their shared love of dogs, often, when she'd come to shore before returning to the island.

"It's heartbreaking," said Mills.

Minnesota wildlife biologist Andy Tri said a predatory attack by a black bear is "beyond extremely rare."

"Very rare – not just that area but across the province," added Jolanta Kowalski, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, on bear attacks.

Digital Daily: Woman uses well-known tactics to scare off bear that charged at her

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The Associated Press

(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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