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Woman uses courgette to escape bear attack

A US woman fended off a bear trying to muscle its way into her home by pelting the animal with a large piece of courgette from her garden.

The Montana woman suffered minor scratches and one of her dogs was wounded after tussling with the 200lb bear.

The attack happened just after midnight when the woman let her three dogs into the backyard for their night-time ritual before she headed to bed, Missoula County Sheriff's Lieutenant Rich Maricelli said.

Authorities believe the black bear was just 25 yards away, eating apples from a tree.

Two of the dogs sensed the bear, began barking and ran away, Lt Maricelli said.

The third dog, a 12-year-old collie that was not very mobile, remained close to the woman as she stood in the doorway of the home near Frenchtown in western Montana.

Before she knew what was happening, the bear was on top of the dog and batting the collie back and forth, Lt Maricelli said.

"She kicked the bear with her left leg as hard as she could, and she said she felt like she caught it pretty solidly under the chin," Lt Maricelli said.

But as she kicked, the bruin swiped at her leg with its paw and ripped her jeans.

The bear then turned its full attention to the woman in the doorway. She retreated into the house and tried to close the door, but the bear stuck its head and part of a shoulder through the doorway.

The woman held onto the door with her right hand. With her left, she reached behind and grabbed a 14-inch courgette that she picked from her garden earlier and was sitting on the kitchen counter, Lt Maricelli said.

She threw the vegetable. It hit the bruin on the top of its head and the animal fled, Lt Maricelli said.

The woman did not need medical attention for the scratches on her leg, though she got a tetanus shot as a precaution, Lt Maricelli said.

Fish and wildlife officials were searching for the bear.