Bears kill fewer humans than bathtubs. Wikipedia’s List of fatal bear attacks in North America makes for unsettling reading (“Kammer was in his tent at Soda Butte Campground when a mother bear attacked and dragged him 25 feet (7.6 m) away”), but death-by-bear is not a statistically significant event. That said, I carry a Smith & Wesson .500 snubbie or (soon) a VXR when I’m hiking in bear country. Because bears. Alaska Dispatch News has a story of a recent mauling (and two more besides) that’s a suitably scary cautionary tale . . .
A National Guard soldier was mauled by a brown bear on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson while participating in a training exercise Sunday morning, officials said. A JBER release said the soldier was mauled by a sow defending her cubs — the second such attack in just more than two months on the Anchorage base.
The soldier was in stable condition as of Sunday afternoon. His name had not yet been released.
The Alaska Army National Guard soldier was a participant in a daylong “land navigation exercise,” said Alaska National Guard spokeswoman Maj. Candis Olmstead. During the exercise, soldiers are given a compass and map and are timed as they navigate alone to hidden locations on the course.
At about 11:45 a.m. the soldier was traveling through the woods when he encountered a sow with two cubs, Olmstead said.
“He dropped to the ground, covered his head and remained still,” she said.
The bear approached him, biting and “swatting” at him. After about 30 seconds, the bear retreated and the soldier blew a safety whistle, alerting medics stationed nearby, she said.
Olmstead said the soldier was not armed at the time of the attack. She said she did not know if he was carrying bear spray.
The soldier was taken to the base hospital for treatment.
Why do all these reports make a big deal about the fact that the attacking bear was/may have been defending her cubs? So that’s OK then? I reckon it’s the ursine equivalent of “he was always such a nice boy” after some two-legged animal goes crazy with a gun. Just sayin’. And, again, packin’.