Did Bear Attack Kill Clinton County Man?

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WOODWARD TOWNSHIP -- State police in Clinton County issued a report Tuesday saying that the death of a man last month was caused by a bear attack.

However, the Pennsylvania Game Commission disagrees with the findings and strongly believes something else led to the man's death.

The Clinton County coroner backs up that state police report which said that while Gary Lininger, 62, was hit by a tree he was cutting, it was not enough to kill him.

Instead state police and the coroner said a bear then attacked Lininger and that is what killed him.

State wildlife officials do not agree.

It was mid-October when Gary Lininger headed out with a chainsaw on the expansive property he called home north of Lock Haven.

State police said he was cutting a tree when it hit him.

The blow either knocked him out or left him dazed. Investigators said a bear then attacked Lininger, which killed him.

That's not how officials with the Pennsylvania Game Commission see it.

"We believe the bear took advantage of what it found, not necessarily, as it's in the report of state police, attacked Mr. Lininger," said David Carlini of the game commission's Northcentral Regional Office.

Carlini helped to investigate Lininger's death.

Between the chainsaw running and the victim's injuries, Carlini is not convinced it was a bear attack.

"It could happen at some point, but the facts in this case don't lead us to believe that. Actually, it leads us to believe individual was cutting a tree, it fell on him and injuries he received ultimately caused his death," said Carlini.

Wildlife officials said there are no other documented wild bear attacks that have resulted in death in Pennsylvania.

"Game Commission came to my home and said 'have you seen any bears acting strangely in the woods?' Of course the answer is no," said Tom Piergallini, a neighbor.

Piergallini said there were lots of questions after Lininger's body was found last month. But a bear attack? He thinks officials should be able to tell the difference.

"Bears are opportunist; they will eat anything in the woods including people if you're lying there on the ground, not alive. Could have been a coyote that came by and did the same thing," said Piergallini.

State police said they based the report on the autopsy results which according to the coroner, indicate the blow from the tree was not enough to kill Lininger.

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