- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ROBBINSVILLE, N.C. (AP) - U.S. Forest Service officials say they will not pursue criminal charges against bear hunters whose hounds attacked and injured a hiker and her dogs in western North Carolina.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports (http://avlne.ws/1wkDvEu) 29-year-old Kadie Anderson was attacked on the opening day of bear season in the Nantahala National Forest in Graham County. The Cleveland resident suffered bite wounds to her hands and legs as she fought to protect her two Australian shepherds. The dogs were seriously injured but are expected to recover.

Forest Service spokesman Stevin Westcott says the incident appears to be more of a civil matter instead of a criminal case. Westcott said it appears no federal laws were broken.

Anderson said she didn’t get the identities of the hunters because she was worried about her dogs.

The attack occurred on Oct. 13 as Anderson was packing up her tent to leave at the end of a three-day weekend. She said about a dozen bear hounds approached her camp, and half of them actually attacked.

She said it was about 45 minutes before the hunters arrived. Before that, she fended off the dogs with a stick and a tent stake.

Anderson said the hunters got the dogs under control, helped her pack the gear and carried it back to her car, but she said the men didn’t offer to get her medical help and left when she reached her car.

N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission bear biologist Mike Carraway called the attack by bear hounds unusual.

“I’ve never run into this type of situation,” Carraway said. “Bear dogs are generally interested in bears, and that’s it.”

Anderson said she has trouble with mobility with her left thumb and still has bruises. She said one of her dogs is missing skin that will take time to heal.

While she said she enjoyed her trip to the North Carolina mountains, Anderson said she may have to leave her dogs behind in the future.

“Western North Carolina is gorgeous,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to go there. I don’t want this to affect my ability to be in the outdoors.”

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Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com

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