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DNA testing needed to identify mystery animal that attacked and killed NC teacher

Safety tips when you encounter bears, wolves, or moose

Seeing a wild animal in the backcountry can be an incredible experience. But knowing how to behave in an encounter might make all the difference. Experts at Denali National Park in Alaska provide tips for encounters with bears, wolves, and moose.
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Seeing a wild animal in the backcountry can be an incredible experience. But knowing how to behave in an encounter might make all the difference. Experts at Denali National Park in Alaska provide tips for encounters with bears, wolves, and moose.

A 77-year-old North Carolina teacher has died of injuries suffered in a mysterious animal attack Friday in the small Beaufort County town of Pantego, according to a Monday Facebook post from the school where she worked.

Investigators with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Brenda Hamilton’s death and reported they are still trying to determine what kind of animal was involved in the attack.

The department originally said the animal’s DNA didn’t many any wild animals indigenous to the area, but corrected that late Monday.

“Canine DNA was found on Mrs. Hamilton’s clothing, however the testing does not differentiate between wild canines such as wolf or coyote indigenous to the area and domestic canines,” said an updated post from the sheriff’s office. “At present Sheriff’s Investigators are collecting DNA from domestic canines in the area for further testing.”

Beaufort County is home to bears, alligators and coyotes, but “preliminary DNA testing facilitated by NC Wildlife Biologist has eliminated any wild animals indigenous to the area,” said a statement issued by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

The victim was identified a high school teacher at Pungo Christian Academy in Bellhaven.

School officials announced in a Facebook post at 11 a.m. Monday that Hamilton died of her injuries at Vidant Pitt Hospital.

A 911 call at 5:47 a.m. Friday reported someone had been attacked by an animal on Indian Run Road in Pantego, said the sheriff’s office. The town of about 200 people is not far from the Pamlico Sound in coastal North Carolina.

“Beaufort County EMS and Paramedics arrived to find 77-year-old Brenda Hamilton of Pantego suffering from severe injuries as a result of the attack,” said a sheriff’s office release.

Biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission have joined the investigation, officials said.

“Beaufort County Sheriff’s Investigators are continuing to investigate to determine which, if any domestic canines in the area may have attacked Hamilton,” said a release.

Hamilton was an East Carolina University grad who had been a teacher at Pungo Christian Academy since 1968, according to the school’s website. She taught high school English and literature classes, said the school.

“We continue to discover how devastating Mrs. Hamilton’s injuries are. Please keep praying for Mrs. Hamilton and her family as they make difficult decisions in the coming days,” said a Sunday Facebook post by the school.

The black and white images, taken in Hyde County, North Carolina show the black bears rolling in a jumble of black fur with teeth bared and claws swinging. The images have been pieced together to create a 14-second clip of the height of the battle

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.

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