A Wisconsin woman saved her husband from an attacking black bear outside of their cabin by hitting the animal with a gun, authorities said.
Fox 11 reports that Gerre Ninnemann initially saw the bear running after his dog, Maddy, on Wednesday. He then went outside the Silver Cliff cabin to summon the 8-year-old yellow lab inside, but the bear chased and tackled Ninnemann, biting and clawing at his back.
“I came running out into the yard here, shouting, waving my arms at the bear, thinking that would care him away,” the retired financial planner told the station. “But it didn’t. All it did was leave the dog and come right for me.”
“I owe her my life."
- Gerre Ninnemann
Ninnemann briefly escaped and ran to the corner of the cabin, but the bear mauled him again. Ninnemann's wife, Marie, then found a shotgun in the cabin’s basement, but she didn’t know how to load it properly. She instead took the weapon outside the struck the bear on its head, allowing her husband to escape. The couple then backtracked into the cabin with the gun pointed at the bear.
“Now the bear is right at the front door and at the windows,” Gerre Ninneman said.
The bear, which was only a year old, then continued to circle the cabin and looked into its windows. A responding deputy later shot and killed the animal with "one shot," Gerre Ninneman said.
Ninneman suffered bite marks from his waist to the back of his head and required staples to close some wounds. He was hospitalized but is expected to recover, as is the couple's dog.
The bear, meanwhile, was being checked for rabies in Madison during a necropsy to determine what may have prompted the attack, Department of Natural Resources supervisor John Huff said.
“Generally, bears avoid encounters,” Huff told the station. “We’re not really sure why the bear made the decision it did. It was a bad decision.”
Bear attacks are extremely rare in the area. There have only been a few attacks in Wisconsin in recent decades, Huff told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Ninneman said he’ll now teach his wife how to properly load and fire a shotgun.
“I owe her my life,” he said.