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Soldier attacked by grizzly in second JBER mauling this summer

Michelle Theriault Boots

A National Guard soldier was mauled by a brown bear on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson while participating in a training exercise Sunday morning, officials said. A JBER release said the soldier was mauled by a sow defending her cubs -- the second such attack in just more than two months on the Anchorage base.

The soldier was in stable condition as of Sunday afternoon. His name had not yet been released.

The Alaska Army National Guard soldier was a participant in a daylong “land navigation exercise,” said Alaska National Guard spokeswoman Maj. Candis Olmstead. During the exercise, soldiers are given a compass and map and are timed as they navigate alone to hidden locations on the course.

At about 11:45 a.m. the soldier was traveling through the woods when he encountered a sow with two cubs, Olmstead said.

“He dropped to the ground, covered his head and remained still,” she said.

The bear approached him, biting and “swatting” at him. After about 30 seconds, the bear retreated and the soldier blew a safety whistle, alerting medics stationed nearby, she said. 

Olmstead said the soldier was not armed at the time of the attack. She said she did not know if he was carrying bear spray.

The soldier was taken to the base hospital for treatment.

Details about the location and circumstances of the mauling were scarce Sunday; Olmstead said she could not say where exactly on base the soldier encountered the bear or answer questions about JBER wildlife activity and management.

A call to a JBER spokeswoman was not returned Sunday.

Just more than two months ago, Jessica Gamboa was jogging on a JBER trail when she was mauled by a brown bear sow, also apparently defending cubs.

After the attack, Gamboa walked bleeding from slashes on her arms and head more than a mile uphill to the highway where her pickup truck was parked, Alaska Dispatch News reported at the time.

It’s not clear what happened to the brown bear believed to have attacked Gamboa. 

Earlier this month, runner Suzanna Knudsen was mauled when she came upon a sow with cubs in Bird Valley, just south of Anchorage.

Contact Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com