Bear Mauling Victim Near Chisana In Wrangell-St. Elias Sends SOS For Help

Lesson #1 For Hunters:  Take A Garmin Satellite System With You Everywhere  Rescue Triggered By "InReach" SOS System  On September...

Lesson #1 For Hunters: 
Take A Garmin Satellite System With You Everywhere 

Rescue Triggered By "InReach" SOS System 


On September 8th the National Park Service at Wrangell-St. Elias Park in Copper Center put out a press release about a complicated helicopter rescue of a 39-year old Eagle River man. While traveling alone, he was mauled by a grizzly sow with cubs near Chisana ("Shu-sha-nah") in the national park. The hunter activated a Garmin satellite system, and an elaborate rescue was put in place, involving the Park Service, Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the Rescue Squadron pararescue team, air-to-air refueling, transfer to Northway, transfer to JBER in Anchorage – and finally arrival at Providence Hospital in Anchorage. 

A little over a year ago, in September, 2020, a man was killed by a grizzly in Wrangell-St. Elias Park near the same location. 

Here's the Park Service's September 2021 press release:
 

 Hunter Mauled by Grizzly With Cubs in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve


Copper Center, AK – September 8th, 2021, 39-year-old Jason Long from Eagle River, AK was mauled by a grizzly bear in an unnamed drainage adjacent to the Chisana River in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

The hunter was alone when a sow with two cubs mauled him, causing lacerations and puncture wounds. He activated the SOS button on his Inreach device, triggering an Air National Guard rescue mission, coordinated with the National Park Service. A 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave Hawk II from the Eielson Air Force Base rescue detachment was already airborne on a routine mission near Talkeetna and was diverted by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center to the hunter’s location. A two-man 212th Rescue Squadron pararescue team was placed on scene to treat and prepare the patient for transport.

The helicopter rendezvoused with a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II to air-to-air refuel before returning to the hunter’s location to hoist the pararescue team, the hunter, and an accompanying member of the hunting party. The hunter was brought to Northway, AK where he was transferred to the HC-130 for transport to the Joint Base Elmendorf -Richardson (JBER). At JBER, the hunter was transferred to a JBER-based 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60 for transport to the Providence Alaska Medical Center and released to medical personnel. The last known condition of the patient was that he was stable.

Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved. Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.

It is important to be “bear aware” when camping, hiking, or hunting in Alaska’s national parks. Information on bear safety techniques can be found at https://www.nps.gov/wrst/planyourvisit/be-bear-aware.htm.


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