WALES, Alaska – A woman and a boy were killed by a polar bear that was stalking residents of a tiny, remote Alaska community, state troopers said Tuesday.
A bear chased residents after entering the western Alaska town of Wales before attacking a woman and a boy, according to an Alaska State Police report.
According to the report, the bear was shot by another resident when it attacked the two victims.
The victims were identified as 24-year-old Summer Mayomic and her 1-year-old son, Clyde Ongtawasruk, Austin McDaniel, director of communications for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, said in a statement Wednesday.
Troopers and Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials were working to travel to Wales after the attack, but were hampered by weather.
“Poor weather conditions in the region and the lack of runway lights in Wales prevented the Airborne and Alaska Department of Fish and Game personnel from reaching Wales,” McDaniel said Wednesday. “The military is continuing to make efforts to fly to Wales today.”
Wales is located on the coast of western Alaska and has a population of 168, according to the US Census.
Research shows that seizures are rare
Reports of polar bears attacking humans are extremely rare, according to a 2017 study published by The Wildlife Society. “From 1870-2014, we documented 73 wild polar bear attacks spread across 5 polar bear range states (Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia, and the United States), resulting in 20 deaths and 63 injuries,” the report said. found.
But melting ice due to climate change has led to a corresponding change in bear behavior and made encounters with bears more likely. CNN reported earlier.
Residents of the town of Churchill in northern Manitoba, Canada, sometimes called the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” told CNN in 2021 that bear encounters are becoming more frequent. Thousands of tourists come every fall hoping to see a bear.
Bear season in the area peaks in October and November, just before Hudson Bay freezes again and bears begin migrating north and congregate near the shore.
In recent decades, the bear season has been longer due to climate change, residents say. Ice melts earlier and freezes later, so bears stay longer on land.
But attacks on people remain rare. The latest was in 2013, according to Reuters, and there have been no fatal attacks since the early 1980s, CNN reported in 2021.
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