68-year-old Bill Vagts wrestled away a black bear last week when it showed up in his Minnesota backyard and attempted to snatch his pet corgi Darla.
Vagts had just let Darla out when the bear emerged out of the woods near his home and almost immediately pounced on the dog. While he usually carries a pistol and keeps a shotgun by his door, he believes he didn’t have time to shoot the bear, so he attacked him.
“He had his jaws on her stomach and her throat. Her eyes were as big as saucers,” he recalled afterward. “If I had thought about it for 2-3 seconds, I would have watched that bear tear my dog apart. I run toward the bear on his right and grab the bear around the neck with both of my arms and pulled him up off my dog.”
— Duluth News Tribune (@duluthnews) December 21, 2017
During their battle, Vagts suffered a bite to the abdomen. After he released his arms, the 150-pound, adult black bear ran away. Vagts’s wife later found him in their kitchen washing his stomach wound in the sink. When she asked him what had happened, he simply told her, “I just wrestled a bear.” He is now undergoing a series of rabies shots as precaution, while a more timid Darla is recovering from several wounds.
As for the bear, the animal wandered down the road where it ran into and attacked two carpenters at a cabin. It injured one of them before a sheriff’s deputy tracked and fatally shot it. The state’s Department of Natural Resources is currently investigating why the bear wasn’t hibernating. Vagts, who admitted he wouldn’t recommend wrestling a bear, believes it’s because the bear may have been starving.
“In hindsight, now I look back, I think when I had him down like that and I was holding him, he could have so easily bit higher,” he said. “In light of what he did over at the neighbor’s, it could have been different. But fortunately, we’re all OK.”
“I love that dog,” he said.