After an Alaska hunting trip went south, a West Michigan man is recovering after a grizzly bear attacked him.
Nicholas Kuperus, 33, was hunting moose with friends on Sept. 6, about 60 miles north of Glennallen in the Upper East Fork Indian River area, about 300 miles northeast of Anchorage. Although it was moose they were after, one grizzly bear felt threatened enough to go after Kuperus.
His uncle, Mark Kuperus, said the group of hunters unexpectedly came across a sow grizzly bear with her three cubs. “They didn’t see it. They basically scared each other,” Kuperus said of the bear and the group.
However, it was too late. The animal lunged and went after the men.
“She was coming at him and he put his arm out,” Kuperus said of the fatal moment his nephew got swatted by the sow. In an official release, the Alaska Wildlife Troopers said the bear caused severe puncture wounds to Nicholas Kuperus’ arms.
Thankfully, before things worsened, Kuperus pulled out his bear spray and sprayed the attacking sow. One of the other two hunters fired a handgun, which scared the animal away.
Later, the group used a satellite communication device to call first responders for help. Soon after, Alaska Wildlife Troopers arrived in a single-engine plane and landed on a nearby ridgetop.
The toppers took Kuperus to a waiting ambulance and went to a hospital to treat him for his wounds. According to his uncle, he was still recuperating as of Wednesday. “They stitched him up and he’s doing well,” he said.
He added that his nephew’s friend moved to Alaska and that Kuperus had gone to go with him for various hunting trips in the rugged wilderness. Kuperus also said his nephew was expected to return to an Alaskan house where they were staying to heal before returning home.
Staying bear safe on your next outdoors trip
According to the national park service, while bear attacks are statistically rare, being prepared can help you if you find yourself face-to-face with a bear.
If a grizzly or brown bear attacks you, leave your pack on and play dead. In addition, lay ﬂat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck. You can also spread your legs to make it harder for the bear to flip you over. The park service also recommends staying still until the bear leaves. However, if the attack keeps going, fight back as hard as possible. Then, use any item you can find to hit the bear.
In contrast, if a black bear goes after you, the NPS recommends not playing dead. Instead, try to escape to a car or a building. If that’s not possible, try to ﬁght back using any object. You can also kick and hit the bear’s face and muzzle.