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DETROIT — Conservation officers shot and killed a black bear over the weekend and plan tests to see whether it's the animal that chased and mauled a 12-year-old girl as she jogged on her grandfather's wooded land in northern Michigan, authorities say.
However, her grandfather doesn't think the animal killed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is the right one.
"It was a real large bear," said Dave Wetherell, 66, on Sunday. "But I don't believe it was the same bear. This one here was between 400-500 pound, the one they killed last night. They feel like the one who attacked Abby was 150 pounds."
STORY: 12-year-old girl attacked by bear while running
Abigail Wetherell was attacked Thursday while she was out running on the approximately 180 acres her paternal grandparents own in Wexford County's Haring Township, Mich., near Cadillac. Her screams summoned help and the bear was chased away.
She suffered serious cuts and puncture wounds on her thigh and was released from Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Mich., on Sunday.
After the attack, the DNR said it would track down and kill the bear and test the body for rabies and other communicable diseases.
Michigan conservation officers Sam Koscinski and Holly Pennoni killed a bear early Sunday morning after responding to a bear complaint about 11:30 p.m. Saturday in nearby Selma Township. A man had shot and wounded the animal on his property "because he perceived the bear to be a threat to his life," according to a Department of Natural Resources news release issued Sunday.
"We don't know if that's the bear that hurt her," said department spokesman Ed Golder on Sunday evening. "We're going to evaluate through forensic tests."
The paw prints were similar, he said.
Bears are a protected species in Michigan and cannot be shot unless they pose an immediate threat.
Fur samples from the bear, which was killed approximately 2 miles from where the girl was attacked, will be matched at the department's Wildlife Disease Laboratory in Lansing, Mich., against DNA samples taken from Abigail's clothing and the scene.
The department is keeping bear traps in the vicinity and monitoring bear activity in the area.
Regardless, Abigail is happily home.
"She's in high spirits," her grandfather said. "She's really sore, but nothing but a bunch of smiles. She understands she was in a lot of danger and she beat it. She's very strong person."
Nor will the terror of the bear attack keep the seventh-grader from running.
"I don't think it will hold her down, but I don't think she'll run to our cabin anymore," Wetherell said. "She realizes that's why the bear chased her, because she was running."
Michigan is home to about 8,000 to 10,000 black bears, 90% of which live in the Upper Peninsula, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The area of Wexford County in the Lower Peninsula where Thursday's attack occurred does have an established bear population.