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State officials say Axis woman can't bury bear

MOBILE (AP) — An Axis woman wants to bury a black bear that died after being injured near her home, rather than see it mounted for display at a local Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources office.

But agency officials said she can't keep the bear's body for burial because it's a protected species that belongs to the state.

The bear, believed to be 1 to 2 years old and weighing 47 pounds, was injured Sunday when it ran into the side of a sports utility vehicle on a road in Axis.

Fate undecided

It died the next day, and Kathy Flowers, who tried to help save it, told Jim Daugherty, a Mobile County conservation enforcement officer, she wanted to bury the animal on her property.

"I said, 'I want to bring her back home.' He said that was against the law," Flowers said.

She said Daugherty told her the bear would be sent for study or mounted in their office.

"It will be up to the wildlife (division) as to what happens to this bear," Daugherty said.

He said bears are sometimes mounted in the office for educational purposes to show schoolchildren.

The bear's body is currently in a freezer at the local conservation office.

Flowers, who volunteers at the Environmental Studies Center, called a neighbor who is a deputy with the Mobile County Sheriff's Office after the bear was injured Sunday.

Flowers said the deputy got permission from Daugherty to put down the critically injured bear.

Still walking

But when the neighbor started to shoot the bear, it got up and walked away.

"He said there was no way he could shoot a bear that walked away," said Flowers, who saw the bear walk back toward the woods and lie down. "We were hoping it was going to get better and leave."

But the bear was still there Monday and was taken to the office of Mobile veterinarian Dr. Roxy J. Leslie, where it died. Leslie said the bear was in a coma when it arrived.

"Taking that much head trauma was more than she could stand," Leslie said. "Time was certainly not in our favor."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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