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Contact: Carrie Wittmer, 907-822-7255
Copper Center, AK – September 8th, 2021, 39-year-old Jason Long from Eagle River, AK was mauled by a grizzly bear in an unnamed drainage adjacent to the Chisana River in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
The hunter was alone when a sow with two cubs mauled him, causing lacerations and puncture wounds. He activated the SOS button on his Inreach device, triggering an Air National Guard rescue mission, coordinated with the National Park Service. A 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave Hawk II from the Eielson Air Force Base rescue detachment was already airborne on a routine mission near Talkeetna and was diverted by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center to the hunter’s location. A two-man 212th Rescue Squadron pararescue team was placed on scene to treat and prepare the patient for transport.
The helicopter rendezvoused with a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II to air-to-air refuel before returning to the hunter’s location to hoist the pararescue team, the hunter, and an accompanying member of the hunting party. The hunter was brought to Northway, AK where he was transferred to the HC-130 for transport to the Joint Base Elmendorf -Richardson (JBER). At JBER, the hunter was transferred to a JBER-based 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60 for transport to the Providence Alaska Medical Center and released to medical personnel. The last known condition of the patient was that he was stable.
Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved. Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.
It is important to be “bear aware” when camping, hiking, or hunting in Alaska’s national parks. Information on bear safety techniques can be found at https://www.nps.gov/wrst/planyourvisit/be-bear-aware.htm.
Last updated: September 9, 2021