Alaska Army National Guard soldier attacked by bear near base

JUNEAU Alaska Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:43pm EDT

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JUNEAU Alaska (Reuters) - An Alaska Army National Guard soldier was attacked by a brown bear while training in the woods near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, the second bear attack on a soldier from the base in two months, officials said on Monday.

Sergeant Lucas Wendeborn suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the attack on Sunday morning while he was participating in a navigation exercise, Command Sergeant Major Alan Feaster of the Alaska Army National Guard said in a written statement.

Wendeborn, 26, had been wading through dense woods when he

encountered the bear and two cubs, Feaster said in the statement.

The soldier, who had received a bear safety briefing before heading into the wilderness area, dropped to the ground and remained still, Feaster said. The bear picked him up by the hip and tossed him. The animal also bit and swatted the soldier before retreating.

Afterward, Wendeborn alerted officials with his safety whistle and made his way back to a road where medics took him to a nearby hospital, Feaster said.

Officials said Wendeborn, a Valdez, Alaska, resident, suffered lacerations to his shoulder, back and chest, plus several puncture wounds.

"Sergeant Wendeborn said this was a textbook example of a worst-case scenario," Feaster said in the statement. "He said, ‘I remember exactly what I was told and did exactly what I was told, and it probably saved my life.’"Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game investigated the mauling and determined the bear posed no risk to public safety, said wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane.

In May, Sergeant Jessica Gamboa was attacked by a brown bear sow, also protecting cubs, while running on the base in Anchorage. She suffered minor injuries.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Cooney)

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