Only in Alaska: U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Bear Attack Victim

Image courtesy USCG

Published Jul 21, 2021 7:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard is used to handling unusual search and rescue requests in Alaska, including extreme storms, vast distances and - occasionally - bear attacks. On Friday, an aircrew out of Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak rescued the survivor of a bear attack near Nome, a small port near the Bering Strait.

While flying from Kotzebue to Nome, the aircrew observed an SOS sign on top of a shack at a tiny mining camp. They circled back over the camp and spotted a man waving his hands in the air, an internationally-recognized sign of distress.

The aircrew landed and made contact with the man, who said that he needed medical care after an attack by a bear a few days earlier. He reported that the bear had returned to his camp and harassed him every night for a week straight. His friends had reported him overdue after he had failed to return to Nome when expected.

The aircrew gave him an initial medical assessment and found that he appeared to have bruising on his torso, along with a leg injury. They took him on board and transported him to awaiting emergency medical services personnel in Nome.

The Coast Guard's last well-publicized bear attack rescue occurred in 2014, when a hunter carrying a deer was attacked by a bear sow and two cubs on Sally Island, a small islet in a bay on Kodiak's jagged north shore. He sustained a severe leg injury, and his partner called for help. A Coast Guard aircrew airlifted the victim off the island and brought him to Kodiak Island Medical Center for treatment.