"Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised," officials say

Grizzly bear
Grizzly bear
| Credit: Getty

A hunter was injured on Wednesday after being mauled by a grizzly bear and her two cubs in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

Jason Long, a 39-year-old man from Eagle River, was alone when the attack occurred, according to a news release from the National Park Service. During the encounter he suffered "lacerations and puncture wounds." 

Fortunately, Long was able to send out an SOS message using InReach, a satellite communication device that allows users to send and receive messages. The call triggered a joint rescue mission between the National Park Service and the Air National Guard.

After help arrived, the hunter was transferred to a local hospital in Alaska, according to authorities, who added that "the last known condition of the patient was that he was stable."

There are currently "no plans" to locate the adult bear involved, as officials believe the attack was "defensive."

"Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous," they added.

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Officials have also warned that any visitors to Alaska's national parks be "bear aware" as "bears and campers often frequent the same areas."

"As the number of visitors to bear country in Alaska increases so does the number of human/bear encounters," the National Park Service explained, noting that while many of these incidents do not result in human injury, "a much larger proportion of these encounters do result in the bear's death."

In order to avoid bear encounters, officials encourage campers and hikers to travel in groups, store food properly and to stay alert in an attempt to avoid any "surprise encounters."