A U.S. Army soldier was killed in a fatal bear attack while on a training exercise in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday. The soldier, whose name is being withheld until family is notified, was part of a small group from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) operating in Training Area 412 west of the Anchorage Regional Landfill, according to a statement from the base.
Initial reports have not indicated what species of bear was involved in the attack. A video on the JBER website that urges caution in dealing with a heavy bear presence shows both black and grizzly bears on the base, which covers 64,213 acres of coastal lowlands surrounded by high mountain chains, mostly consisting of wild areas dotted with lakes and swamps. Hunting and fishing are allowed on the base, and access is managed through the use of an online registration system. Training Area 412 was closed to the public after the incident, which is Alaska’s first fatal bear attack of 2022.
Attacks involving both bear species have occurred in the Anchorage area in the recent past. In 2014, a female jogger was seriously mauled by a grizzly sow with cubs on the base, and in 2018 a grizzly sow with cubs killed a man in nearby Eagle River. In 2017, two Anchorage residents were killed by black bears in separate attacks. According to a 2019 report from Alaskan health officials, 68 people in the state were hospitalized because of bear attacks from 2000 to 2017, and 10 people were killed by bears during the same period. Seven of the fatal attacks involved brown bears, and three involved black bears.
JBER is headquarters for the U.S. Alaskan Command, 11th Air Force, U.S. Army Alaska, and the Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Region. Base officials said the 673rd Security Forces Squadron initially responded to the incident, and Alaska Wildlife Troopers are now searching for the bear.
Field & Stream will update this developing story as more details become available.