It comes as no surprise that Alaska has the highest bear population of all the United States. What does come as a surprise is five bears traveling in a pack.
68-year-old Michael Snowden and 38-year-old Jeff Ostrin were hunting together Tuesday afternoon on a remote island in Alaska. The two had a successful hunt and were transporting the deer they had killed back to their boat when they stopped for a break. While resting, they heard a rustling in the forest around them and suddenly, a massive female bear tore into camp, tearing at Snowden’s leg and scratching him with her claws.
Ostrin, thinking quickly, grabbed his gun and fired three shots into the ferocious beast, killing it. Other bears started coming out of the surrounding forest as well, eyewitnesses later said they counted five in all. Ostrin shot and killed another bear before the beasts heeded the shots and fled.
The boat crew witnessed the incident from sea and the captain immediately called the Coast Guard while the rest of the crew rushed to help the men get to safety. Snowden was airlifted to Kodiak Municipal Airport where he was stabilized and transported to Providence Island Medical Center. His injuries were not life-threatening.
Experts are citing this as an example of why hunters in rural parts of Alaska are told not to carry entire carcasses of felled animals since bears are attracted to the smell of blood. Instead, it is suggested that hunters butcher the animals on site and put the meat into sealed containers before transporting it. Lt. Joseph Schlosser of the Coast Guard’s 17th District stated that
“the fact that there were five bears was an abnormality and this serves as a reminder that anything can happen and we need to be aware of our surroundings.”