Alaska residents have been left shaken by two fatal maulings by black bears over the last two days.
Officials with Pogo Mine reported Monday that a contract employee hired to take geological samples was killed by a black bear and another person was injured in the attack which occurred approximately 300 miles northeast of Anchorage.
Alaska State Troopers and federal mine officials are investigating the attack. The names of the victims have not been made public.
According to officials, the contractors were working several miles from the main mine camp when the attack occurred.
“Right now we have more questions than answers. Everyone on site is concerned for those involved,” Pogo Mine general manager Chris Kennedy said. “Our condolences have been shared with our contractor and our hearts go out to the individuals, their colleagues, and their families.”
In an interview with KTVA, the mining company said that the bear involved in the attack was killed at the direction of Alaska Wildlife Troopers.
The mauling near Pogo Mine followed the Sunday attack on Patrick Cooper, a teenage wilderness runner, who was killed near Anchorage in what scientists called a rare predatory attack by a black bear—not a defensive action such as when a female bear attempts to protect her cubs.
“It’s very unusual,” state Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said of the mauling. “It’s sort of like someone being struck by lightning.”
Marsh noted that the most recent fatal mauling in the state occurred near Delta Junction in Alaska’s interior in 2013, when a man was killed by a male black bear. The greater Anchorage area saw its last fatal bear attack in 1995, when two people were killed in the Turnagain Arm area by a brown bear protecting a moose carcass.
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