Soldier Killed in Bear Attack on Alaska Military Base

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Bear signs stand in high traffic areas around Tyndall Air Force Base
Bear signs stand in high traffic areas around Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (Isaiah J. Soliz/U.S. Air Force)

A soldier died in a bear attack during a training exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the Army announced Monday.

It is unclear whether the soldier was equipped with bear spray, or if their unit supplies the spray to all of its troops. A packing list for students at Alaska's Cold Weather Leaders Course, the region's premier school training soldiers to survive in the area, does not include bear spray.

The Army said it was withholding the name of the soldier until their next-of-kin is notified. State authorities are searching the training area for the bear.

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In 2014, two soldiers were attacked by bears at the base. A noncommissioned officer with the Alaska National Guard suffered non-life threatening injuries during a land navigation course when he encountered a bear and her two cubs. The bear swatted at the soldier, bit him and then picked him up by the hip and threw him, according to reporting from Reuters.

That same year, another NCO was attacked by a bear while on a run. She was thrown and pummeled by the bear several times while playing dead, according to reporting from The Associated Press.

According to a report from Alaska health officials, 68 people were hospitalized after bear attacks between 2000 and 2017. During that period, 10 people died. Bear attacks happen most frequently between June and September.

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

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Military Headlines Army Alaska