WAYZATA — A black bear killed the daughter of a Lake Minnetonka-area family near the border of Minnesota and Canada over Labor Day weekend.
Catherine Sweatt-Mueller, 62, of Maple Plain, was at a cabin on Red Pine Island on Rainy Lake in Ontario, Canada, with her parents when she was killed by a bear on Sunday, Sept. 1, a news release from the Ontario Provincial Police says.
Sweatt-Mueller had gone outside to check on the family’s dogs when she apparently encountered the bears, a family friend told Lakeshore Weekly News.
When she didn’t return to the cabin, her mother called 911 around 6:30 p.m., the release says. When police found Sweatt-Mueller’s body, there were bears nearby. Officers shot one of them.
“Public safety remains our No. 1 priority. We are actively searching for the other bears that demonstrated aggressive behavior when police officers arrived on scene on the weekend. The bear that was dispatched by the Ontario Provincial Police is being sent for testing at the University of Guelph,” Jolanta Kowalski, senior media relations officer with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, said in a statement to Lakeshore Weekly News.
Kowalski noted “Attacks of this nature are extremely rare and our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim.”
Black bears live throughout most of Ontario, Canada, mainly inhabiting forested areas where food, refuge and den sites are more plentiful, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s website says. In Minnesota, there are roughly 12,000-15,000 black bears who call the state home, mostly living in the northeastern portion of the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s website says.
Red Pine Island, located about 10 miles from International Falls, Minnesota, is a secluded island with no other homes on it.