Mat-Su

9-year-old seriously injured in attack by brown bear on Palmer Hay Flats

A 9-year-old boy was seriously injured when a bear attacked him Tuesday night near Palmer, Alaska State Troopers said.

The boy had been hunting for moose with a family member in the Palmer Hay Flats area off the Glenn Highway at Matanuska Townsite Road when they came upon a brown bear with a cub, officials said. The older bear mauled the boy, and the 41-year-old man he was with shot and killed the animal during the attack, according to troopers.

The man and boy are related, said troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel. Troopers did not specify their names or relationship.

First responders were called to the area at 6:37 p.m., and troopers said the boy had serious injuries and the man had minor injuries. Both were taken to a Mat-Su hospital, troopers said. The boy was in fair condition by Wednesday afternoon and was receiving medical care, McDaniel said.

Wildlife officials returned to the area Wednesday and interviewed the people wounded in the attack, said Todd Rinaldi, a regional management coordinator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Officials searched for the cub by ground and helicopter Wednesday, Rinaldi said, but didn’t find it. Officials believe it’s an older cub, and it was not reported to have been injured, according to Rinaldi. If the cub is found, it will be euthanized, he said.

“Unfortunately bear cubs beyond the first few weeks/months of life outside the den do not do well in captive situations,” Rinaldi wrote in an email.

Officials have been searching for a brown bear that has been raiding chicken coops near Butte and Palmer in recent weeks. Rinaldi said there have not been any reports since Friday.

A necropsy was completed Wednesday on the bear involved in the attack, and Rinaldi said officials don’t believe it’s the bear that has been raiding chicken coops.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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