Authorities will not criminally charge a group of bear hunters whose hounds mauled a hiker and her dogs this month in North Carolina.
The dog attack occurred Oct. 13, the first day of bear season in the state, in Nantahala National Forest, says the Citizen-Times.
Cleveland native Kadie Anderson, 29, was hiking with her two Australian Shepherds when she was set upon about a dozen bear hounds. She suffered bites to her hands and legs as she tried to protect her pets from the attack. Her dogs also received deep gashes that left them cut and bleeding.
According to Anderson, the attack went on for 45 minutes before six men arrived and called off the hounds. The hunters then helped Anderson collect her gear, walking her back to her car before departing without calling for medical aid. Anderson stated she didn’t think to ask the men’s names because she was focused on her dogs’ health. After treating the dogs at a nearby veterinarian, Anderson returned to Cleveland. The dogs are expected to fully recover.
While U.S. Forest Service officials say they will not pursue criminal charges, they hinted at the option for a civil case. “At this point, it looks like it’s more of a civil matter instead of a criminal case where federal laws were broken,” said Forest Service spokesman Stevin Westcott in an interview with the Asheville Citizen-Times. “It appears that no federal laws were broken. It’s an unfortunate accident, and it’s sad that it happened.”
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Anderson said she wished to press charges but was told by the local sheriff that Nantahala was outside his jurisdiction. Anderson said she did not know the bear hunter’s names and no one has come forward yet to claim responsibility. Anderson was in an area of the park open to bear hunting but said she was unaware that the season had opened on the day she was hiking.
On a Facebook page called “Justice for Kadie,” Anderson’s friends are calling for authorities to find the men and press charges. They have also set up a GoFundMe account to pay for veterinary bills and offer reward money for the hunters’ identities.
The bear season in North Carolina will continue until Nov. 22, then pick up again from Dec. 15 to Jan. 1. During this time, Forest Service officials are asking visitors to be cautious of hunters and other visitors and have a safety plan in place.