Horrific Alaska bear mauling recounted by victim’s brother, Alaska Dispatch

Two observations: at least 4 of the six persons I know who were mauled, or killed, by bears could be characterized as outdoors persons. This hunter should not have stopped to take a photo of this bear…he realised the bear’s speed after the fact. I do not want to second guess this hunter…but even with a rifle I would have carried bear spray, and I have, with me and shot the spray at the charging bear as I have before.

Lone, predatory black bears responsible for most human attacks
Bear-mauled plane needed quick fix A grizzly bear attack that lasted but seconds has left the former chief of the Nome Volunteer Fire Department in a medically induced coma in a Seattle hospital.

Many in the Seward Peninsula community consider it a small miracle that 54-year-old Wesley Perkins is even alive. He was bear hunting in a wilderness far from the community when the attack happened Sunday. Rescue is normally difficult in such circumstances, but Perkins’ brother — Nate — was able to organize a volunteer effort in little more than an hour.

“We had him back in Nome as quick as possible,” Nate said by telephone from Nome Monday. “All of the ducks were in a row.”

Wes was picked up by a Bering Air helicopter and flown to the Norton Sound Health Corp. hospital. He spent less than an hour there as an emergency room doctor stabilized him. Wes was then loaded on a medevac jet bound for Anchorage. By the time it landed in the state’s largest city, the attending ER doctor from Nome had consulted with physicians at Providence Alaska Medical Center, who decided that because of the nature of Wes’s injuries it was best to take him on to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Gruesome details of bear mauling
The bear — a huge boar — grabbed Wes by the head. It tore loose his lower jaw, ripped loose teeth, removed “half of his tongue” and damaged his left eye socket, Nate said. Doctors are hopeful they can save the eye. Wes, a well-known and popular figure in Nome, is expected to survive.

“He’s alive,” Nate said. “He’s strong. He recognized those around him. (But) they’ve got him in a medically induced coma now.”

Matt Johnson, Nome’s current fire chief, said everyone in the community was praying for Wes, who’s lived in the old gold mining town more than 30 years.

“He’s done so much over the years to help others,” Johnson said.

An avid and experienced outdoorsman, Wes was among the last people anyone in Nome expected to get mauled by a bear. He had hunted grizzlies many times over the years, and that is what he was doing again on Sunday. There is a large and very healthy grizzly bear population on the Seward Peninsula. Bears are so plentiful there that they have sometimes been considered a problem. The Nome Native association some years ago petitioned the Alaska Board of Game to allow bears to be shot any time they approached a subsistence camp because the bears were so often raiding stored salmon.

The wildlife management board refused to do that, but it did liberalize bear hunting seasons in the area. Alaska residents are allowed to shoot one bear a year. In other parts of the state, the limit is one bear every four years. The bears of the Seward Peninsula are just now emerging from their dens. Snow still blankets good parts of the area along the Bering Sea coast, located about 550 air miles northwest of Anchorage. Nome is not connected to the Alaska road system.

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Nate said Wes and hunting partner Dr. Dan Stang, a Nome dentist, had driven about 30 miles out of town on the Nome-Council Road with Stang’s son over the weekend. In the Kigluaik Mountains not far from Skookum Pass, they unloaded snowmachines from a trailer and set off in search of bears. It didn’t take them too long to find the tracks of a massive grizzly. The men followed those tracks for several miles.

Eventually, Nate said, they caught up to the bear where it had bedded in a creek bed. For reasons as yet unclear, Wes then decided to take photographs of the animal instead of shoot it.

“He took out his camera to take a picture,” Nate said. “He had his rifle on his back.”

Big old grizzly’s surprise attack
At that point, the bear came to its feet and charged. “It attacked him in seven steps,” Johnson said.

Actually, Nate said, it was more like seven bounds or strides. Stang and his son counted them later. “Seven strides and it was on him,” Nate said. A running bear can cover 8- to 10-feet in a stride.


2 Responses to “Horrific Alaska bear mauling recounted by victim’s brother, Alaska Dispatch”

  1. Michael Says:


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