Alaska News

2 guides mauled by brown bear while leading hikers north of Sitka

This story has been updated with a new article: Hikers got caught between sow brown bear and cub before mauling

A brown bear mauled and injured two wilderness guides leading cruise tourists on a hike Thursday on Chichagof Island north of Sitka.

Both guides suffered severe lacerations and were airlifted for medical treatment, the Coast Guard reported.

The crew of the vessel Wilderness Explorer, operated by Un-Cruise Adventures, initially reported the mauling to the Coast Guard.

"Paramedics on scene evaluated the two as needing medical evacuation. Both sustained multiple injuries and severe lacerations," according to a statement from the Coast Guard.

The guides, a man and woman, were walking on the Sitkoh Creek Trail on Chichagof Island, about 30 miles north of Sitka, according to the Coast Guard.

The encounter happened about 2 1/2 miles up the trail, said Un-Cruise director of communications Sarah Scoltock. The guides were leading a group of 22 tourists, she said.

"Followup interviews revealed that the two victims were conducting a guided nature hike for several tourists when they were confronted by a sow and cub brown bear and ultimately mauled," Alaska wildlife troopers based in Sitka reported.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew medevaced the victims to Sitka for medical treatment, according to the Coast Guard.

The male guide was treated and released. The female guide was flown to a Seattle hospital for treatment, Scoltock said.

One of the guides deployed pepper spray, and the bears eventually retreated, troopers said.

"All crew go through wilderness training and bear safety training including how to avoid bear encounters.  Expedition guides carry bear spray on all excursions off the ship," Scoltock said, adding the company does not yet have all the details about what happened.

She said a crew medical team escorted the guests back to the ship.

Additional information will be released once the hikers' families have been told about the mauling, troopers said.