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Alaska News

Black bear kills mine worker, injures another in Interior Alaska

  • Author: Jerzy Shedlock
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published June 19, 2017

An official for Pogo Mine in Interior Alaska said a contract employee died in a black bear mauling that happened several miles from the mine's main camp Monday.

A second contract employee sustained non-life-threatening injuries and is being taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, said Pogo Mine external affairs manager Lorna Shaw.

The employees who were mauled by the bear worked for a contractor hired to take geological samples; they were working at an exploration site several miles from the main camp when the bear attacked, Shaw said.

The mine is about 38 miles northeast of Delta Junction.

"A mayday was called and in accordance with site emergency response procedures, a helicopter responded with a paramedic and a physician's assistant on board," Shaw said. The medical team responded at 10:40 a.m., she said.

All field workers were called back to camp. At the direction of wildlife troopers, the black bear was killed, Shaw said.

Megan Peters said Alaska Wildlife Troopers are responding to investigate.

An official with the U.S. Mine & Safety Administration said the agency is also on its way to the worksite. The safety officials will conduct an initial investigation to determine whether it falls within their legal jurisdiction.

Pogo Mine runs year round, and workers live at a remote camp where they mine gold and process ore, according to the company's website.

"Right now we have more questions than answers. Everyone on site is concerned for those involved," said Chris Kennedy, general manager at Pogo Mine, in a statement. "Our condolences have been shared with our contractor and our hearts go out to the individuals, their colleagues, and their families."

Shaw said previous years involved instances with nuisance bears, though there were never attacks or damage to company property. There appeared to be less bear activity this year, up until Monday's attack, she said.

The mauling is the second fatal bear attack in only two days. A 16-year-old runner in a Bird Ridge mountain race was killed by a black bear he encountered while descending the trail Sunday, troopers said.

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