Mother bear killed following attack on woman; cubs relocated

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. — The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said a mother black bear has been killed and its three cubs have been moved following an attack on a North Carolina woman.

75-year-old Toni Rhegness said she was outside walking her dog Tuesday night when she was attacked by a female bear.

[RELATED: Black bear spotted around Birkdale community in Huntersville]

After spotting three cubs near her car, Rhegness said she yelled to scare them away and the mama bear came around the car and knocked her down.

[WATCH: Bear lounges in NC woman's hammock]

Wildlife officer Shawn Martin said the incident was not a predatory attack, but a protective attack.

Rhegness suffered claw scratches to her head, shoulder and legs.

"It could have been much worse. If I had not gotten up and gotten in my house, I think it could have been much worse," she said.

Officials said the mother bear was euthanized for human safety, and the healthy cubs were old enough to live without their mother.

Commission black bear biologist Colleen Olfenbuttel said a lack of food is driving bears into neighborhoods.

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