Alaska News

Bear with cubs mauls leader of mountaineering class in Southeast Alaska

A Fairbanks man was mauled by a bear Monday while leading a University of Alaska Southeast mountaineering course near Haines, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers responded to the scene of the mauling with the help of a private helicopter company, and Forest Wagner, 35, was evacuated off Mount Emmerich. He was transferred to another helicopter before being flown to an Anchorage hospital.

Troopers learned of the bear mauling on Mount Emmerich near Kicking Horse River in Southeast Alaska shortly before noon. Police from the community of Haines, located east of the mountain across Chilkat Inlet, called in the mauling.

Wagner was leading a group of 11 students and two teaching assistants when he was mauled, according to university spokesperson Katie Bausler.

"The group was traversing an area between Mt. Emmerich and the Chilkat River when Wagner was attacked by a bear with cubs," she said.

None of the students were hurt in the incident and they all made it off the mountain safely, Bausler said.

Troopers and university officials coordinated with Temsco Helicopters to lift the students from the area. Prof. Kevin Krein is in Haines with the students, who will all return to Juneau on Tuesday as previously planned. The school with give support to the students as needed, Bausler said.


Wagner is the instructor of a mountaineering class, Bausler confirmed. He has been teaching outdoor studies courses, including backcountry navigation and travel, since 2006.

When students enroll in the outdoors classes, they are required to complete paperwork that acknowledges the inherent risks of recreating in the Alaska wilderness.

One of Wagner's students hiked down the mountain to get cellphone reception to call for help, according to troopers.

Wagner is in stable condition at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, according to a release from the university. His family has been told about the mauling.

It was the second reported bear attack in Alaska in the last three days. A man was attacked near the Denali Highway in the Interior over the weekend.

Jerzy Shedlock

Jerzy Shedlock is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.