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Pa. woman killed by captive black bear

Black Bears,Brown bears, Grizzlies etc.

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dzoo
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Pa. woman killed by captive black bear

Postby dzoo » Mon Oct 05, 2009 7:13 pm

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/art ... AD9B55FD82

Pet bear turns on Pa. owner, kills her in cage
By MICHAEL RUBINKAM (AP) – 2 hours ago

SAYLORSBURG, Pa. — For nine years, Kelly Ann Walz kept the black bear she called "Teddy" as a pet, raising it from cubhood at her hilltop menagerie where she also cared for a mountain lion and tiger.

On Sunday night, she went into Teddy's 15-by-15-foot steel and concrete cage, throwing a shovelful of dog food to one side to distract the bear while she cleaned the other side. "She's done it 1,000 times," said her friend and neighbor, Scott Castone. "And on 1,001, something happened."

The 350-pound bear turned on Walz and attacked. Walz's two young children and Castone's children saw the attack and summoned help. Castone shot and killed the bear.

Walz, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene.

"She loved the animals and took care of them," Castone said Monday as he prepared to tell his own children that Walz had died.

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials said Walz's husband, Michael Walz, had longstanding permits to keep, sell and display exotic animals. The permits expired in June 2008, but a lapsed permit is considered a summary violation — similar to a traffic ticket — and would not have resulted in the removal of the animals, said commission spokesman Jerry Feaser.

He said the most recent state inspection in 2007 did not turn up any problems, nor were any discovered when game commission investigators returned after Sunday night's attack.

At one time, the Walzes kept an African lion, cougar, jaguar, tiger, bear, leopard and two servals on the wooded property in Ross Township, a rural area about 30 miles northeast of Allentown in northeastern Pennsylvania. As of Monday, only the mountain lion and tiger remained, according to Feaser. Castone said the rest had died of old age.

Castone, whose house is about a football field away from the menagerie, said there's never been a problem in the decade he has lived there. He said that the animals were safely locked in their pens and that he had even fed popcorn to the bear on occasion. Castone said the family kept the animals as pets and did not sell them, although Michael Walz's permit allowed him to do so.

The bear was atop Kelly Ann Walz when Castone arrived with a handgun. It had clambered off and was about to leave its cage when Castone, a 38-year-old schoolteacher, opened fire.

"He got off of her to come out to me," Castone told The Associated Press. "I did what anyone would do. It was pretty much self-defense."

Tim Conway, an information and education supervisor with the game commission, said owners of wild animals usually have a two-section cage, allowing them to isolate the animal behind a locked gate while they clean the other part.

"Why this woman chose to go in the same area that the bear was in is beyond me. It's a fatal mistake," he said. "These things are not tame animals; they're wild animals."

There's been a menagerie on the property for at least 20 years, according to neighbor Marshall Eldridge, 56, who toured it before the Walzes took over in the 1990s. Eldridge used to worry about the animals escaping when his now-grown children were still living at home, but he said the cages were sturdy.

"They were good people. They just had a strange hobby," Eldridge said.

He said the lion's roars carried to the next ridge, where Eldridge delighted in spooking out-of-town guests hearing it for the first time.

Michael Walz is listed in state corporation records as the president of World of Reptiles Inc.

A sign at the bottom of the Walzes' steep drive warns curiosity seekers to keep out: "Enter only if specifically invited." A man who answered the phone at a listing for Michael Walz said the family did not want to comment.

There are more than 100 wildlife permits statewide, a number that has dropped significantly in recent years as game commission regulations have become more stringent, Feaser said. Now, new applicants must have at least two years' experience handling wild animals and obtain a letter of approval from their municipality before they can receive a permit. But the stricter rules do not apply to existing permit-holders like Walz.
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Postby pat » Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:36 am

dzoo,

thanks for posting that, it is also in the "news" forum.

it was a very sad situation. I don't understand why that woman went into a 16x16 pen with her bear without any type of protection.

the pen was way too small for a bear, the cement floor was so unnature.

I can't say that is why the bear attacked her. but, sometimes, when bears or any animals are bored or unhappy, their personailites could differ to the one ones that are more content.

I keep hearing different stories, but, that is normal for the news media.

this will be just another reason to ban more exotic in pa and most likely in other states. :cry:

my heart does go out to that family.
Pat (Sybil and Benny's Mom)

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Postby Michael » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:48 pm

Your right Pat this will give them another reason too ban ownership of exotics. Im sad that happened too her and the bear, not too mention the shock and hurt her family is going thru. I have one bear that I will go in with as long as she is alone. I will not go in with any others because I know they could take me out if they wanted too. My cages are set up so I can spray out waste and when maint is needed I have a way too safely move the bears out into the next pen and no one can get hurt. I have always said that if I get hurt then I cant help the animals so no longer do I take the risk. I also carry a shocker and mace I used too carry a handgun but stopped doing that since I have calmed down a little. Not too say I have let my guard down I need too be sharp everytime I go around my animals and make sure everything is locked and secure. I hope I never have too read a story on here about one of the members here or you read about me. You know I hear about people getting attacked by domestic animals too but the press loves too put up a story about an exotic going off. Too the family in Pa. Im sorry for your loss.
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Postby pat » Fri Oct 09, 2009 4:24 pm

michael,

one of the members here suggested, I contact the news media and tell my opinion on raising exotics. all I can do is try. I doubt it will help.

some of the blogs from the woman that was killed, is really outrageous.
so many people out there were so cruel, and acted like this poor woman deserved it because she had a "wild animal" :twisted:

there is so many people that just don't understand that there are people that can take proper care of exotics. its sad when there is an accident with the exotics, it always sounds like everyone that owns one, is the same way :roll:

my opinion, is dogs, children and adults are more deadly than black bears.

I doubt sybil and benny would attack, but, I have to be safe about it, and not take that chance. it can only take one second for something to set them off. they have never really showed any strong agression.
but, I understand, that don't mean they never will.

that is one reason I make sure they never stand when I am around.
so far, they are pretty good about it. but, again, that still don't guarantee they can't attack. we have a tazer, for safety precautions.
Pat (Sybil and Benny's Mom)

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Postby bajacalal » Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:26 pm

That was me (unless other people said the same thing). Feel free to reference things I say publicly.

I definitely think you should try to do this. There is a chance they will try to portray you in a negative way but if bear owners don't speak up for themselves than who is going to speak for them?

Anyway, I think you should share not only your opinions but if possible, also your experiences with them, and your experiences with the public's reaction to having them.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there regarding exotics owners, one of the biggest ones I think is that people see exotics owners as either rich people who only have the animals to show off their wealth or stereotypical rednecks that have them to look cool or "badass." Yes, there are people like that, but I don't think the typical owner is one of those people.
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Postby Michael » Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:36 pm

Yes, your right you hear of more mothers killing there own children then you do of a bear owner being killed by there own bear, but when it happens my god they act like it happens everyday. You cant really say its the owners fault because she owned it, thats the same as saying a person killed in a car wreck was killed because they drive a car. Its just one of those things that happens and we are never going too know why the bear attacked its caregiver. No one is going too try too ban beer if a person is killed by a drunk driver because the govt makes too much money off of it and it would be crazy to do so anyhow. Ask those bloggers if a family member is killed in a car wreck did they deserve it because they chose too drive that day? Things happen by the choices we make its not really anyones fault. Who knows if it could have been avoided we can always ask that but when God calls you home.........your going.
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Postby pat » Fri Oct 30, 2009 3:29 pm

bajacalal

yep, I know it was your suggestion. but, when I posted here, I couldn't remember your username, only that it starts with "ba"
was in a hurry when I posted.
I never did contact the news media. I kept getting side tracked.
I have so much going on

but, I do like that idea. if there is any more bad news about exotics, I will try to jump on it quicker. I still might try to contact the news media.

(sorry for taking so long to reply)
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Postby pat » Fri Oct 30, 2009 3:30 pm

michael,

I agree with you 100%. sad that so many people out there don't see it that way :cry:
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Postby veralidaine » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:03 am

so Pat, can you touch your bears?

I know it's good to always be safe but I can't help but feel a little sad that you can't trust your animals when they're like your best friends
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Postby pat » Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:46 am

I don't go in the pen anymore. I hope to once their pen is expanded.

but, I do pet them through the fence. they love it.
sybil love to be petted, I do feed them treats.through the fence.
they are very gentle when they take treats from my hand.

hubby goes in every morning to feed them, and pets benny.
he is a very docile bear. sybil is moody.

doubtfuly she would every really attack, but, I can't take that chance right now. once she gets her own pond, I know she will be better.

she gets upset because she can't play with the dogs anymore.
she was very spoiled when she was young. she grew up in my house her first year.

when the addition is done, oscar (steer) will be go in with them.
they both got along very good. and use to play together.
oscar sits by the fence with her alot.

I am trying very hard to do everything I can to make them happy.
the addition is started, we just need to finish their pond and the enclosure.

hubby just found a very big pipe, 5ft in diameter. he will semi bury that for them so they have something new.

when they go to in to hibernate, I am going to try and spend more time with them. I havent' spent the time with them I should have been :cry:
just so busy lately. hard for me to decicate the time I want to spend with them.

their den is in loft, which they love. so I will try this winter to spend time with them in their loft.

really funny when they hibernate, benny makes the nest.
it looks like a giant birds nest. they bury themselves in the straw.
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