What kind of a man wrestles a bear? The kind who loves his dog

If you’ve ever had a good dog, you can probably understand what makes Bill Vagts tick.

Vagts jumped on a black bear in the woods near Isabella, Minn., on Tuesday and wrestled it until it let go of Darla, his 30-pound corgi.

“He had his jaws on her stomach and her throat. … Her eyes were as big as saucers,” he tells the Star Tribune’s Paul Walsh.

“I run toward the bear on his right and grab the bear around the neck with both of my arms and pulled him up off my dog.”


“I love that dog.”

There it is. What more does anyone need to know?

Vagts says he’s never been afraid of black bears and in the past they’ve always run away from him, which seems like good advice if you’re a black bear in Isabella. You don’t sleep on Bill Vagts.

The bear that Vagts took on is dead, shot by a conservation officer after it attacked two construction workers at a nearby camp.

Authorities are trying to figure out why the bear wasn’t hibernating.

  • MrE85

    Not everyone understands the love we feel for our pets, but many do. I’m glad that Bill and Darla made it.

    Sorry about the bear, but there was something wrong with that critter.

    • >>there was something wrong with that critter.<<

      First thing I thought when I heard this story.

  • MikeB

    I’m not going to stand by if my dogs are in danger. I would never imagine jumping on a bear. Until reading what Bill Vagts did.

    • Jared

      This sums up my reaction too. Usually when I read things like this I think “I can’t imagine what I’d do if I was in that situation.” Reading this there’s no question. Now I need to look for a black bear to wrestle to get it out of my system…

      • MikeB

        Bird seed and table scraps in the yard works. At least in the spring and fall.

        Take pictures!

  • jon

    There are people who wouldn’t charge a black bear to protect their dogs?

  • Rob

    I’ve never had to fend off a bear, but I had to deliver a couple of savage kicks to a Staffordshire Pit Bull that would have killed my dog if I hadn’t.

    I was walking my dogs – a Lab/PB mix and a Rat Terrier – along the Zumbro River in Rochester when we encountered a loose Staffordshire Pit Bull. The Staffordshire was on a dead run, headed directly at my little dog. I had just enough time to step partially in front of it, and as it moved around me, I kicked it as hard as I could In the rib cage just as its snout made contact with my dog’s lower left side. My kick stunned it a little and blunted its charge just enough that its teeth didn’t connect.

    It immediately tried to attack my dog again, but I was better positioned and aimed my kick at the same area as my first. The impact must have knocked the wind out of the Staffordshire just enough for it to drop out of its fugue state and heed the calls of its owner.

    I follow Leroy Gibbs’ maxim, “Never leave home without a knife,” and was on the verge of pulling it. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that.

    • For the record, Rat Terriers rule.

      /Well done.

    • jon

      Had a similar experiences… when I see the dog well enough in advance that I can put myself between it and my dog, I started barking, growling and snarling at it as it charges…

      Dogs have no idea what to make of barking snarling growling humans… they stop dead in their tracks… not willing to get into a confrontation with a human that has clearly gone insane, but not willing to turn their back on a crazy person either…

      So far while the dog is trying to figure out an endgame to the problem of a clearly rabid human their person would come and get them…

    • Jerry

      Probably the Zumbro River in Rochester, not the Cannon.

      • Rob

        The river that runs past my mother-in-law’s place in Rochester.