The man was hunting in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve when a family of grizzly bears came out of the wilderness.
Be safe out there, Outsiders. Especially in bear country. Bear encounters, attacks, and fatalities are on the rise across North America, a cause for caution amongst all lovers of the outdoors. The latest incident comes from Alaska, where a hunter has been mauled by a grizzly bear sow and her two cubs.
The attack came Wednesday, Sept. 8. 39-year-old Eagle River resident Jason Long was hunting adjacent to the Chisana River in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, reports the National Park Service.
There, the grizzlies would attack without warning, mauling Long in an “unnamed drainage” alongside the river. Long was left with deep lacerations and puncture wounds from the attack. Alone at the time, the hunter thankfully was able to activate the SOS button on is Inreach device, NPS cites.
Thanks to this bear country prep, the hunter was able to trigger an Air National Guard rescue mission. They, alongside the National Park Service, would then initiate the search. According to their report, the 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave Hawk II from Eielson Air Force Base rescue detachment was already on a routine mission close by. It was then able to divert from Talkeetna to Long’s location.
Once found, a two-man 212th Rescue Squadron pararescue team would treat the hunter. After preparing for transport, the trio was off, and Long, thankfully, would survive the potentially deadly grizzly bear encounter.
Grizzly Bear Mauling Leads to Remarkable Air-to-Air Refueling Rescue of Alaskan Hunter
Jason Long’s rescue is a remarkable one by all accounts. His rescue copter would rendezvous with a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II for an air-to-air refuel before it was able to hoist he and the pararescue team onboard.
Once airborne, Long would go to Northway, AK to transfer to an HC-130 via the Joint Base Elmendorf -Richardson (JBER). There, yet another transfer would take place before reaching the Providence Alaska Medical Center.
NPS cites Long’s condition as “stable” as of Thursday, Sept. 9. He is currently under the care of Alaska state medical personnel.
As for the nature of the grizzly bear attack, no details are available other than overtly aggressive behavior. All it takes for a grizzly sow to attack is the “need” to protect her cubs. Outside of maternal instincts, NPS officials do not believe the sow to be an overly aggressive individual.
The grizzly bear mauling follows an alarming trend of both black and brown bear fatalities in North America. This summer, a beloved Yellowstone guide was mauled to death by a grizzly. Before this, a camper was dragged from her tent and mauled to death by a Montana grizzly.
For safety techniques to remain “bear aware” in Alaskan bear country, please see the NPS’s tips here.