16-year-old Patrick Cooper was mauled on Sunday by a black bear during a popular mountain race in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Alaskan teen ran into the bear after straying from the mountain trail and getting lost in the wilderness. He had only reached the halfway point before taking the detour that would end his life.
Reports say that Cooper had called his brother Jack while being chased by the bear. His brother informed the director of the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb race, Brad Precosky, who took the necessary action to alert the race crews to find the missing teen.
It took about 2 hours to find Patrick Cooper. The body was being guarded by the bear about a mile up the path from where he strayed. The 250-pound bear was shot in the face by a Chugate State Park ranger. However, the bear merely ran away.
Alaskan State Troopers informed the press that the 16-year-old’s remains were airlifted that same day. Park rangers and staffers searched for the black bear the next day, but have yet to find it. Ken Marsh, spokesman for department of Fish and Game, explained that Sunday’s attack was most likely to be a rare predatory move, not likely to be a defensive action like that of a mother protecting her cubs.
Marsh goes on to explain that maulings are infrequent and rare, “It’s very unusual. It’s sort of like someone being struck by lightning.”
However last Monday, about 300 miles northeast of Anchorage, a geologist hired by a nearby gold mine was killed by a black bear. Officials from the gold mine reported that the contract employee wasn’t alone and a second was injured during the attack. The attack is still under investigation and no names have been released.
The attack on the teen wasn’t normal, claimed the division operations manager of Alaska State Parks, Matt Wedeking. Many were concerned if there were cubs nearby, but Wedeking expressed, “We don’t know. There could have been. But right now, I don’t have any information about the bear.”
In 2013 near the Delta Junction in Alaska, a man was killed by a male black bear. Marsh explained that this was the last fatal mauling in the state. He went on to express that the last fatal attack in the Greater Anchorage area was way back in 1995. Two people were killed by a brown bear protecting an animal carcass.
It’s not unusual however to be attacked by bears and sustain some injuries or at least a scare. Last week 3 youths endured minor injuries when a female brown bear attacked them to protect her cubs. Rangers shot at her and she ran.
Races still safe
Precosky said that areas such as these are inherently risky, especially when concerning bear encounters. He informed the press that everyone signs a liability waiver when signing up to any wilderness races.
Typically, he explained, that with the noise and the presence of a lot of people, usually the bears avoids the participants. “There’s no safer time to be on a mountain than on a race,” said Precosky.
There were rumors that Cooper managed to text his mother while being chased, but there are no confirmations. The trail has been closed and bear warnings issued.