“I Could Have Touched The Bear’s Nose”

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

I’d prefer not to be that close.

Renee Levow enjoys walking with her two German shepherds in the wooded area near her home on Rum Springs Road, about a 15-minute drive from Myersville.

Lately, however, the 53-year-old has been nervous to step outside, because on Sept. 21, she was attacked by a bear.

Levow said her two dogs were off the leash when, about a half mile from her home, she spotted a black bear nearby in the woods.

Her female dog, Kylie, chased after the bear, which she said weighed about 150 pounds. The bear then charged at Levow, after Kylie returned to her.

“I could have touched the bear’s nose,” Levow said this week about the encounter.

She is recovering at home from her injuries. The bear bit her two times above her left knee, wrestled her to the ground, stomped on her chest and damaged her face.

After playing dead for about 10 minutes — and her dogs Kylie and Bones possibly chasing the bear away — she called 911. Levow was sent to Meritus Medical Center near Hagerstown and then flown to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

A surgical team worked on her face for four hours, said Levow’s husband, Steve. Renee said they had to sew up all her wounds.

“I have a good amount of damage, but I don’t know how it will turn out. It will be months until I know what I really look like,” she said. “There may possibly be nerve surgery above my right eye. We don’t know yet, because of the swelling.”

The Levows are glad the attack didn’t turn out worse, and hope it raises awareness of the growing bear population in the area. Steve said since he moved to the area with his wife more than 20 years ago, he’s never seen as many black bears in the area as he’s seen in the last few months.

They said they’ve seen more than a dozen black bears around their home this summer, which is in a wooded area of the county, roughly six miles north of Gambrill State Park.

Harry Spiker, a bear biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service, said the bear population has been growing in the state and region.

But bear attacks are rare, Spiker said, as the attack on Levow is one of only a few recorded in Maryland history. The last was in 2016, also in Frederick County.

Speaking with colleagues in similar positions throughout the region, Spiker said bear attacks usually happen because of three scenarios: Someone could intentionally or unintentionally be feeding the bear, through a bird feeder or other something similar; a person startles the bear when they encounter one at night.

The last scenario? Dogs.

“One of the most common [causes] is dogs … dogs and bears just don’t get along,” Spiker said.

That’s for sure.  Dogs will go after bears, and usually dogs are too agile for the bears, but you’re not.  But I’d rather have the dogs with me to alert me to bear presence.

Both the Levows and Spiker noted the topography and development in the region, as there is rolling farmland to the west and Frederick and its development to the east.

Because of this, the bears tend to travel along wooded ridge tops, like the area near Rum Springs Road.

“That is a natural funnel that the bears tend to come down,” Spiker said, adding Maryland’s healthy forested areas and plentiful food sources have likely led to an increase in the bear population since the mid-20th century.

DNR officials have set a trap in an attempt to catch the bear or others. Spiker said it’s unlikely the bear would be put down if trapped because it would be difficult to know if it was the one that attacked Levow.

Both Steve and Renee urged people who bike or hike in the area to be alert for bears, and not to approach them if they see one. Steve thanked DNR for bringing up some cans of bear mace for protection.

“We encourage anybody who walks up here to carry bear mace,” Steve said. “It’s probably better than a gun.”

Yea okay.  You keep your bear spray.  If I’m out and about in the bush, I’ll carry a large bore handgun, thank you.


  1. On October 6, 2020 at 3:35 am, Nosmo said:

    I cannot imagine venturing into bear/mountain lion/feral dog, etc. territory unarmed, said armament to be of sufficient power to deal with the worst of what lives there; you’re going into their house, not a pretty green Disney-version of yours.

    Obviously, not everyone shares that view. I do not understand that viewpoint, but since it’s not my butt on the line I guess I don’t have to.

    The “walk the doggy in the woods” thing is aso an interesting, and popular, mindset, along the lines of “let’s take the dogs along to get the bears really stirred up and angry then stand there like the meat filling in a sandwich when the pissed-off bear starts looking for payback.”

    Sheltered suburban dweller, meet real world. The hard way.

  2. On October 6, 2020 at 7:24 am, Thomas said:

    And NJ Governor Murphy just “permanently” canceled their bear hunt.


  3. On October 6, 2020 at 9:02 am, billrla said:

    Good thing the NJ Governor terminated bear hunting, ’cause bears could catch COVID from hunters not wearing masks. It’s science and data.

  4. On October 6, 2020 at 9:16 am, Fred said:

    There are just too many things wrong with this to catalog but here are a few.

    Yes, there is plenty of food because hunting has been outlawed. Deer roam in marauding packs destroying entire neighborhoods. Enter, bears and coywolves.

    This is pretty important, the fish and game and retardation guys in MD won’t get it, or won’t ever admit it, but that bear being harassed by dogs immediately going to the source, the person, is a bad sign for people in that area. I’ve never heard of such a thing from eastern blacks in populated areas like this. The bears know that they under threat of habitat and limited resources. That’s a pretty intelligent move by the bear, or it’s pressured by other bears at only 150 pounds to stay in that immediate area and not try to traverse another territory. This is a bad situation given the testimony that bear numbers are greatly on the rise. One year, and one year soon, there will be less than usual rainfall…

    Also, this area used to full of rednecks. Note how the MD department of being stupid about what they are supposed to be in charge of (that’s the official title) doesn’t know anybody with a tracking dog and can’t even begin to mount an effort to find that specific bear. Finding that exact animal ain’t hard if you get started right away, unless you’re a stupid city slicker or a liar who has orders to care more about “environments” than people. And I reckon, that by God’s law, they are now complicit in the next attack. Thou shalt not kill is enjoined!

    Bear attacks “usually” happen because of dogs? I’ve never heard of such a thing. They made that up. Dogs usually run blacks off, but bears being territorial along with dogs, and bears being determined animals almost always come back to re-attempt to keep/establish a territory. I would be interested to know correlating data about dogs in which the bear saw the human as the source threat and went after him/her. Hmm? I have my doubts.

    Who even knows in America anymore what all this could possibly mean. It’s a hidden mystery, an unknowable thing. Oh well, be your own gods then, who needs those old superstitions of the Bible? Not the people of Maryland, they have king Government to save them. Yes, Caesar please save us from ourselves.
    “9 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

    2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

    3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

    4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

    5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.

    6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

    7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.”

  5. On October 6, 2020 at 9:34 am, revjen45 said:

    A 150# black bear isn’t any bigger than a person. So, would a 9mmP be adequate?

  6. On October 6, 2020 at 10:24 am, Fred said:

    All you need is bear mace! Slave! And dogs are bad, don’t have dogs for protection either! Slave!

    What, precisely, is “Bear Mace?”

  7. On October 6, 2020 at 10:53 am, Frank Clarke said:

    “If I’m out and about in the bush, I’ll carry a large bore handgun, thank you.”

    Alas, not in Maryland, you won’t, you barbarian you!

  8. On October 6, 2020 at 11:11 am, Ned2 said:

    Good luck trying to carry a handgun openly in Maryland. And if you do conceal and use it, you’re well and truly effed even in Frederick county.

    They need to ban hiking in Maryland. If it saves just one life………

  9. On October 6, 2020 at 12:04 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    @Frank @Ned2,

    Thus I won’t be hiking in Maryland. In fact, I’ll never go to Maryland for any reason under the sun.

  10. On October 6, 2020 at 12:19 pm, Fred said:

    The people of the State lf Maryland have made it clear that they don’t want my kind.

    There are consequences for their communism. I will NOT adjust and won’t adapt. I don’t go to Maryland, ever.

  11. On October 6, 2020 at 12:41 pm, Tom said:

    Yeah the myth of black bears as cuddly bird feeder eaters is just that, a myth. There is a bear fatality compilation at the wiki which is super fun reading. The game wardens are definitely not coming to save you.

  12. On October 6, 2020 at 1:34 pm, Daniel S. said:

    Perfect way to fix this problem. Stop making bear permits so hard to obtain and allow like a 1 or 2 permit per hunter during deer season. Bear season also has its own for running them down with dogs.

  13. On October 6, 2020 at 2:14 pm, Artorius Brutus Maximus said:

    I live in a remote location in Washington State. I’m not as concerned about bears as I am about feral dogs. Lately, I’ve been thinking about adding some Quik Clot and field dressings to my daily carry.

  14. On October 6, 2020 at 2:35 pm, Bill said:

    Artorius Brutus Maximus- Look up Solatac for an emergency kit.

  15. On October 6, 2020 at 3:12 pm, James Harris said:

    Concur that Maryland is a communist state, as are they all north of the Potomac ( actually, all north of the Occoquan); but might go there to visit Fort McHenry, an important place in U.S. history.

  16. On October 7, 2020 at 6:34 pm, whocares said:

    Biologists when interviewed for a typical “bear attacks human” story always and I mean every single time say the attack is rare.

    So what? It’s not rare to the human victim facing months of rehab or reconstructive surgeries. Anyone walking in bear, mountain lion, wolf, coyote lands in the USA ought to be carrying a firearm with the right caliber and rounds to tilt the balance in your favor should there be an encounter. Carry it within instant reach as well.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Animals and was published October 5th, 2020 by Herschel Smith.

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