As weather allowed, Alaskan authorities finally recovered, then identified, the bodies of Jan. 17’s polar bear attack.
According to the Alaska Department of Public Safety‘s “final update” on the case, the remains of the two Alaskan victims have been identified as 24-year-old Summer Myomick of Saint Michael and her 1-year-old child, Clyde Ongtowasruk. Both bodies are within the State Medical Examiner’s Office awaiting autopsy.
The tragic attack took place at 2:30 PM on Tuesday, Jan. 17 in Wales, Alaska when a polar bear set upon Myomick and her baby boy. A local resident managed to shoot and kill the bear as it attacked, but the pair were mauled to death. Inclement winter weather would prohibit authorities from reaching the scene in the day following.
On the morning of Jan. 19, “an Alaska State Trooper and a representative from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game traveled to Wales to investigate the polar bear attack,” the Alaska Department of Public Safety states Thursday. “The remains of Myomick and Ongtowasruk were transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy.”
Further investigation of the incident would reveal that Myomick and Ongtowasruk were walking between the school and the clinic when the polar bear attack began.
Previous Updates on Polar Bear Attack Shed Light on Horrible Tragedy
“Poor weather conditions in the region and the lack of runway lights in Wales prevented Troopers and Alaska Department of Fish and Game personnel from making it to Wales,” the dept. cites of the village in which the attack took place. Troopers would continue to make efforts to fly to Wales on Jan. 18 to no avail.
As soon as the scene was reached, the victims were finally identified. Next of kin was then notified. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been notified of the incident, and Alaskans are asked to stay alert during a possible increase in polar bear encounters as sea ice continues to melt.
Polar bears are losing their natural habitat at an alarming rate. And as they do, the species (the largest extant bears on Earth) is moving inland in search of food and solid ground. Warming of Earth’s Arctic region is, in short, forcing starving bears inland and further south than ever before in search of prey.
This is increasing the likelihood of polar bear attacks not only in Alaska, but across the Arctic region. In August of last year, a polar bear attacked and injured a French tourist in Norway. Polar bears are also beginning to mate with brown bears in increasing numbers within Alaska. This is leading to documented cases of “Pizzly bears,” as recent photos show.
The first wild documentations of “pizzly bears” began in 2006, with more cropping up in the following years. Biologists expect their numbers to increase as our climate continually warms. And so, too, will tragic polar bear attacks.