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Authorities in Alaska were shocked by back-to-back black bear attacks

29 June 2017
Authorities in Alaska were shocked by back-to-back black bear attacks

Authorities in Anchorage, Alaska, have confirmed the death of a 16-year-old boy who was mauled and killed by a black bear while running in an annual Father's Day trail race near Bird Creek.

State Troopers found the teenager's body about a mile up the path with the bear guarding it.

"There were probably a dozen mountain runners up there keeping the bear on its toes", Precosky said. She has been trained in understanding bears and, while she doesn't worry about herself, she worries for others. "It's sort of like someone being struck by lightning".

The two contract employees of the Pogo Mine were taking geological samples and exploring a site several miles from camp Monday when the black bear attacked, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The surviving victim was transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Pogo Mine external affairs manager Lorna Shaw said, according to Alaska Dispatch News.

Back-to-back fatal maulings of people by black bears in Alaska appear to be flukes by rogue animals, experts said Tuesday. Searching for a way back to the race course, he instead found himself face-to-face with a 250-pound black bear. "But right now I don't have any information about the bear".

Now-retired state bear biologist John Hechtel tracked Alaska's fatal bear maulings between 1980 and 2014 and counted only three fatal maulings by black bears. Authorities shot at that bear, but it ran off. Much of the vast state is bear country, after all, and even the competitions themselves can come with warnings, or liability waivers for participants to sign. Races actually can be said to cut down on the risk of a bear encounter because so many people are there, making noise and making their presence known, Precosky said.

Competitors note that races involve large noisy crowds, which can spook the animals away from the action. The death of 16-year-old Patrick Cooper on Sunday during a trail race was followed on Monday by the killing of a Pogo Mine contractor.