When Gerre Ninnemann saw a young black bear chasing after his eight-year-old Labrador, his first thought was to go to his dog. The incident happened at his cabin in Silver Cliff, Wisconsin where Ninnemann spends his leisure time now in retirement. His thoughts of peace and quiet often involved bears, which Ninnemann thought he knew how to handle by now.
“I came running out into the yard here, shouting, waving my arms at the bear, thinking that would scare him away,” Ninnemann told Fox11. “But it didn’t. All it did was leave the dog and come right for me.”
His yellow lab managed to reach the safety of the house, but Ninnemann was not as fortunate. The bear chased the man for a distance before tackling him from behind. Ninnemann tried to use his hands to ward off the bear, which clawed and bit him. He managed to push the animal off but was caught again before reaching the door.
“I was very mad at myself for getting myself into this situation, especially without a gun,” Ninnemann recalled.
Just a few feet away in the cabin Ninnermann had stored a 20 gauge shotgun that he used for bird hunting. When Ninnemann’s wife Marie heard the commotion she immediately took up the weapon and stepped outside to save her husband. The shotgun was not aimed at the bear however; in fact it was not even loaded. She had never learned how to handle the firearm. Instead, Marie Ninnemann clubbed the bear over the head, allowing her husband time to retreat while the animal was dazed.
Inside the cabin, Gerre Ninnemann took the shotgun and loaded it with shells. He waited for the bear to make its next move as it circled the house.
“Now the bear is right at the front door and at the windows,” he said.
The couple stayed inside the cabin until a Sherriff’s deputy arrived. The bear noticed the vehicle pulling up and approached the passenger’s side, where the deputy shot and killed it. The animal was later transported to wildlife officials, where it will be checked for rabies and other diseases. Experts believe that the bear responded differently to Ninnemann’s attempts to scare it off because it was very young, and this was likely its first interaction with humans.
As for Gerre Ninnemann, he is grateful to be alive. After the scuffle he received staples for injuries to his head and neck, as well as stitches for his ear. As an added measure, Gerre Ninnemann says he will be taking his wife out to practice using a firearm.
“I owe her my life,” he said.