By Christopher Baxter
OF THE MORNING CALL
October 5, 2009
A Monroe County woman was attacked and killed by her pet black bear Sunday evening while trying to clean the animal's cage, state police at Lehighton and the Pennsylvania Game Commission said.
Kelly Ann Walz, 37, of the 7200 block of Dogwood Lane, Ross Township, was mauled to death about 5 p.m. by the 350-pound bear, state police said.
Walz kept the bear inside a 15-by-15 foot steel and concrete cage near her residence, said Tim Conway, information education supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Northeast region.
Conway said Walz threw a shovelful of dog food to one side of the cage to distract the bear while she cleaned the other side of the cage. At some point, he said, the bear turned on her and attacked.
Conway said the bear was shot and killed. No information was available Sunday about who shot the bear.
''These animals, even though they may be very docile one day, you never know,'' Conway said. ''They are wild animals and they're very powerful and they could easily destroy your day.''
Conway said he believed Walz had owned the bear since 2000, making it about 9 years old. Conway said she also owns a Bengal tiger and an African lion.
''I don't know what makes an individual want to have a pet or animal like this in captivity,'' he said. ''I just don't.''
Conway said he believed all of the animals were licensed with the Game Commission, as required by law. He said that while bear attacks in captivity are rare, they do happen each year across the country.
''People make mistakes,'' he said.
An investigation into the bear attack is continuing, state police said. The Monroe County coroner could not be reached Sunday for comment.
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