Outdoors/Adventure

Hunter mauled by grizzly sow with cubs in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

An Eagle River hunter was mauled by a grizzly sow with cubs Wednesday in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, officials said.

Jason Long, 39, was last reported in stable condition with cuts and puncture wounds at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, park officials said in a statement.

Long was hunting for sheep with a partner when they split up to cover more ground, said Carrie Wittmer, a spokeswoman for the park. Long was near a drainage off the Chisana River, about 11 miles downstream from the village of Chisana, and walking through knee-high brush and grass when he surprised the bear and she charged from about 15 yards away, Wittmer said.

“He dropped his pack and tried to get his rifle ready to shoot but was unable to do so,” Wittmer said.

The bear knocked Long to the ground and attacked him. He fired his rifle twice to keep the bear away and signal to his partner that he needed help, Wittmer said.

He administered first aid and hit the SOS button on his satellite-linked emergency device just before 1 p.m., Wittmer said.

The Alaska Air National Guard 210th Rescue Squadron responded, dropping a two-member team at the site from a Pave Hawk helicopter to treat Long and prepare him for transport.

Long and his hunting partner were flown to Northway and from there in an HC-130 plane to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

Park officials said there are no plans to locate the bear that attacked Long.

“Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous,” the statement said.

This is the first bear attack in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park this year. A hunter was killed by a grizzly bear last year while he was field-dressing a moose.

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