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Bellevue councilman at Harborview after bear attack near Lake Wenatchee

LAKE WENATCHEE - A Bellevue man who was walking his dogs near his vacation home at Lake Wenatchee was mauled by a black bear Friday night.

State Fish and Wildlife agents killed the bear about three hours after the attack.

John Chelminiak, 58, and a Bellevue city councilman, was at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Saturday morning. His condition was not immediately available.

Chelminiak was first treated at Central Washington Hospital, then was airlifted to Harborview, said Sgt. Chris Foreman with the Chelan County Sheriff's Office. He suffered puncture wounds to his face and head.

State Fish and Wildlife agent Doug Ward said Chelminiak's injuries are not life-threatening but he was transferred to Harborview where doctors specialize in reconstructive surgery.

At 8:33 p.m., Chelminiak's wife, Lynn Semler, called 911 to report that her husband had been attacked by a bear at the bottom of their driveway in the 17000 block of Lakeshore Drive at Lake Wenatchee, Foreman said.

Ward said Semler heard the commotion and her husband calling for help.

Dispatchers said Semler was hysterical, Foreman said. She told them her husband was calling out that he was dying and could not get back into the house.

"There is a big gap in our knowledge of what happened because we have not had a chance to talk to the victim or his wife," Ward said. "We don't know if one of the dogs got loose and went after the bear, or if the bear went after the dogs. We just don't know: 'Why now? why this bear?'"

The dogs are in good shape, Ward said, other than being "a little traumatized."

Wildlife agents used an agency tracking dog to search for the bear after the attack and found it about 11:15 p.m. The bear was shot to death about 400 yards from where the attack took place, Ward said. Killing a bear, he said, is protocol for any suspected of attacking humans.

"The bear was old, estimated to be about 10 years old, and not in very good condition," Ward said. "It was really thin."

The bear was a nonlactating female, so agents know it did not have cubs, he said.

Ward said a necropsy will be conducted on the bear to further determine its condition. DNA samples will also be tested to confirm that it was the same bear that attacked Chelminiak.

Just down the road from where the attack took place, outside another residence, was a garbage can that had been knocked over and garbage was strewn around, Ward said.

"You can't leave your garbage out with bears around," Ward said.

"This has been our theme song. You have to remove attractants, whether it's birdseed, garbage or fruit that falls on the ground, or compost piles. These bears will find it and they're just like us, they're all about finding an immediate source of calories."

Copyright (c) 2010, The Wenatchee World, Wash.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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