WATCH: Coast Guard Rescues Skier After Bear Attack in Alaska Backcountry

by Jon D. B.
coast-guard-rescues-skier-being-mauled-bear-attack-alaska-backcountry

The slope-side rescue came just in time for the Alaskan backcountry skier Saturday after surviving the initial bear attack.

US Coast Guard came to the rescue of an Alaskan skier suffering injuries from a horrific bear attack, the New York Post learned Monday. The man, whose identity is not public, sustained injuries to his head and hands after the Saturday, Feb. 6 mauling. The species of bear responsible is also unknown.

The Coast Guard’s active video aboard their MH-60 helicopter shows the harrowing rescue. Within, winds and snow swirl as the skier receives his lifeline deep within the Alaskan backcountry. Further details are not yet available, but in remote wilderness like this, the skier must have been in possession of a GPS tracker or similar survival gear. This surely saved his life, as his location is said to have been about 90 miles north of Juneau, Alaska’s capital.

Footage shows the Air Station Sitka (Gulf of Alaska Coast Guard) rescuers operating effortlessly in intense conditions. Quickly, they’re able to hoist the skier up on a stretcher to safety. From there, the helicopter flew him to an emergency medical service in Juneau, Coast Guard states.

NYPost adds that the man was coherent and responsive throughout, despite his head injuries.

Several Alaskan Species Could Be Responsible for Bear Attack

While the exact species is unknown, Alaska is home to a wider variety of bear species than any other U.S. state. Within, American black bears and polar bears can both be found alongside several subspecies of brown bears, including grizzlies.

Polar bears are classified as marine mammals. They are not found inland except under rare circumstances. Black and brown bear species, however, will inhabit, hunt, and protect forest territories. Despite their names, all subspecies can vary wildly in color – black bears, in particular. As a result, it can be hard to identify an exact species or subspecies – especially during or after a bear attack.

Out of all bears present in Alaska, black bears are most widespread. In addition, they are the most likely species to encounter in both mountainous and forested regions. Combining this with the skier’s location and survival due to relatively minor injuries, it is most likely his attack from a black bear. Black bears are much smaller than their brown and polar cousins, and also possess innate curiosity. This frequently brings them into contact with humans.

Regardless of species, we wish this brave Alaskan skier the best and a strong, speedy recovery. Major kudos to the Alaskan Coast Guard on another brilliant, successful rescue.

Know your bear survival before entering bear country: Surviving a Black Bear: How to Prevent Encounters and Deter an Attack.

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