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Black bear attacks couple in North Carolina

They were treated and released. Their dog chased and barked at the black bear, but it continued to attack as they fled to their car, officials said.

Authorities in North Carolina are looking for a bear that attacked a couple Wednesday after their dog antagonized the animal, the National Park Service said.

The couple fled to their car after the attack near the folk art center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville and drove to a hospital where they were treated and released, the park service said Friday.

The pair was attacked as they retreated after their unleashed, barking dog ran toward the black bear, park service said in a statement.

Officials said that the attack was "bold and aggressive" and that the bear, if found, will be killed humanely.

Dogs are required to be on a leash on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the park service says on its website.

A spokeswoman for the park service told the Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper that the couple suffered lacerations and scratches, and the dog was not hurt.

The park service said the decision to euthanize the bear if it is found is based on its and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission protocols.

Those agencies did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.

Nearby trails have been closed.

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs more than 400 miles through parts of the Appalachian Mountains from North Carolina to Virginia.

Bears are busy trying to gain weight in the fall to prepare for winter hibernation, which means they are very active, officials said.

The wildlife resources commission said after a 2018 bear attack that a bear's behavior can show that it is a threat to public safety.

Normally, it said, if a bear is acting defensively it leaves as soon as possible.

In Wednesday's attack, after the bear reacted defensively "there were repeated attacks by the bear while the couple retreated with their dog to the safety of their vehicle," the park service said.

If bears learn aggressive behavior, they will keep doing it and teach it to their cubs, the wildlife commission said after the 2018 attack that injured a Swannanoa woman.

Wildlife officialssay black bear attacks against humans are rare, and that the bears are typically shy.