Coast Guard Rescues Man From Grizzly Bear in Alaska

A harrowing ordeal at a mining camp

Grizzly Bear
A grizzly bear in Alaska.
Ashley Lee, CC BY 4.0

If we’ve learned one thing from the documentary Grizzly Man, it’s that the wrong combination of bears and humans can be a tragic experience for the people involved. A new report from The New York Times offers a harrowing reminder of this, with the story of a man staying at a remote mining camp outside of Nome, Alaska who was in a fight for his life against a grizzly bear.

The story, from Neil Vigdor, plays out like the stuff of nightmares. The unnamed man was in his 50s or 60s, and had been living on the site since earlier this month. According to his account, a grizzly bear attacked him one night and dragged him to a nearby river; according to what he said after being rescued, the bear then returned to his camp nightly.

Making things even more unsettling were the circumstances of the man’s rescue. A Coast Guard helicopter saw him waving for help — but it only happened to be passing overhead due to some cloud cover on its intended route.

The helicopter picked up the man and took him to a hospital in Nome. At the time, he had an injured leg, was showing signs of sleep deprivation and had only two rounds of ammunition for his gun remaining. He had also written messages for help on the roof of the shack where he was staying.

Reading Vigdor’s article, a number of questions linger, including how the man got to the mining camp to begin with. It sounds like there might be an even larger story to be told here — possibly even grizzly-sized.

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