Bear Bites Florida Teen's Face 'Open'
Leah Reeder, 15, survived by playing dead; her dog may have helped, too
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 22, 2014 10:44 AM CST
A young black bear sits in a tree in a business area in downtown Fort Walton Beach, Fla., on June 10, 2014.   (AP Photo/Northwest Florida Daily News, Devon Ravine)

(Newser) – A Florida teen has been hospitalized after she was attacked by a bear while walking her dog last night, with Leah Reeder's mother describing some ominous-sounding wounds: "It bit her face open, and beside her ear on her scalp. It was very, very bad," says Sherry Mann, who noted the 15-year-old also suffered claw marks to the back and bite marks on her right arm and left leg. But things could perhaps have been even worse: After the bear pulled her into a ditch, Leah "played dead," her mother tells mypanhandle.com; she adds that the barking of Leah's springer spaniel may have also prompted the bear's departure.

Afterward, Leah managed to walk back to her dad's house less than a block away. "I'm feeling OK. It was pretty scary," the teen tells the Apalachicola Times, describing the attack as "like a black blur." "She managed to crack a few smiles at me before she went in for surgery," her mother says. The girl is currently recovering, according to reports, and officials last night said they think they've caught the animal and plan to euthanize it. Mann says she complained to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission years ago about the rising bear population, but she ultimately stopped after feeling the FWC did nothing. "We see four, five, six bears a night," she notes. "They're all over Eastpoint. They'll come out in broad daylight now." (A few months ago, a student hiking in New Jersey was killed in a bear attack.)