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Sunday 19 January 2020

Black bears kill two in Alaska, including teenager in extreme race

The road is closed after a fatal bear mauling at Bird Ridge Trail in Anchorage, Alaska (AP)
The road is closed after a fatal bear mauling at Bird Ridge Trail in Anchorage, Alaska (AP)

Authorities in Alaska are investigating a second fatal mauling involving a black bear in as many days.

Officials at Pogo Mine, near Fairbanks, said one contract employee was mauled to death on Monday and a second received non-life-threatening injuries in an attack at an exploration site.

The mine said the two worked for a contractor hired to take geological samples at the underground gold mine about 90 miles south east of Fairbanks.

A helicopter with a paramedic and physician's assistant on board was dispatched to the scene several miles from the main camp, and the injured worker was flown to a Fairbanks hospital.

The mine recalled all 24 of its employees working in the field after the mauling.

The company said Alaska Wildlife Troopers directed mine personnel to kill the bear, which they did.

The death came after a 16-year-old boy competing in a mountain race just south of Anchorage was mauled by a black bear on Sunday.

Patrick Cooper had somehow veered off the trail during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb and became lost.

At one point he reportedly placed a frantic call to his brother, saying he was being chased by a bear . The brother notified race director Brad Precosky, who alerted race crews to begin a search.

It took a couple of hours for responders to locate the teenager, whose body was found about a mile up the path, at about 1,500ft. The bear was at the site, guarding the body, Mr Precosky said.

A Chugach State Park ranger shot the 250lb bear in the face, but the animal ran away.

Alaska State Troopers said the boy's remains were airlifted from the scene on Sunday.

Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said Sunday's attack is believed to have been a rare predatory move, not a defensive action such as when a female bear will protect her cubs.

"It's very unusual," Mr Marsh said. "It's sort of like someone being struck by lightning."


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