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Wildlife Commission report details Longwood bear attack

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LONGWOOD, Fla. - Documents released Tuesday tell the story of what happened when a woman was attacked by a bear at the beginning of the month in Longwood.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officials released their investigative findings Tuesday morning.

Susan Chalfant, 54, has not spoken publicly about the attack, nor did she want her photo taken to show her injuries in the report.

In the report, Chalfant described being repeatedly charged by the bear before being knocked to the ground and bitten in the face.

Investigators said they tried several times to interview Chalfant, and when they did have the opportunity to talk to her, she became so upset they had to stop the interview.

According to the report, Chalfant had deep, ragged lacerations along her head, neck and shoulders.

Chalfant was walking her two dogs in her Longwood neighborhood around 8 p.m. on Dec. 2, when the bear came rushing from a nearby bush.

"Even though the dog is little and the bear is beg, the bear can be threatened by that animal that appears to be attacking," said area resident Mary Beth Phelps.

In the report, Chalfant said the bear was "snarling and growling" and that it would repeatedly lunge forward, and then back away.

Chalfant said the she tried to back away toward her house, the bear circled her and knocked her to the ground twice.

The report said Chalfant fought back with her hand, trying to hit and gouge the 200-pound bear's eyes, but the bear continues to bite, shake and release her.

"I just can't even imagine going through that," said area resident Vinni Gindal. "It's very scary."

According to the report, Chalfant said "That bear was trying to kill me ... it just kept coming."

Investigators said they are still uncertain whether that attack by the bear was predatory or defensive.

They said they believe the bear might have been acting to protect her three cubs.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials struck a nerve with hundreds of viewers when they put down two bears caught in this area of Longwood that were later learned determined not to be the attacking bear.

The bear that attacked Chalfant was captured and is being held with her two of her cubs in captivity. The third cub was killed a few weeks after the attack while crossing a road in Longwood.