Polar bear on rampage mauls woman and boy to death in Wales

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On Tuesday afternoon, Alaska State Troopers received a report of a polar bear attack in Wales, a community on the Seward Peninsula in Alaska’s arctic northwest.

The bear had entered the community and chased several people, then attacked an adult woman and juvenile male. It was shot and killed by a local resident as it attacked the pair. Troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are working to travel to Wales as weather conditions allow.

Update: Both the woman and the boy were killed by the bear before it was put down.

Wales has about 150 residents and is located about 100 miles northwest of Nome.

34 COMMENTS

  1. The bear was likely suffering from a couple bullet holes before it started attacking people. Or it was in pain of some kind. Very saddening a lady lost her life.

    • I wouldn’t make excuse for the bear – it was hungry, very simple. They aren’t cute cuddly teddy bears – they’re predators at the top of the food chain in their environment and will eat a human given the chance. Respect them, don’t worship them.

    • Jule, we don’t know the health condition of this Polar Bear, but we do know that it’s been a tough month up on the Seward Peninsula. First a Musk Ox goes out of its way to stomp tied up dogs and sadly gored and killed a man defending them, and now this tragedy.
      A 9 year old boy near Yakutat years ago was savaged by a lone, seemingly healthy wolf at a logging camp.
      More recently a young teacher got ripped to shreds by wolves out in Western Alaska.
      Thankfully such events are rare, but they should serve to remind us that Nature isn’t tame and wild animals are, well dangerous.

      • To me, the salient point of your comment Robert is that these encounters are rare. They should not be used by wildlife managers to craft policy

      • I grew up in the bush and have a lot experience with bears. I’ve been attacked by sick bears before. Healthy bears are not likely to do that. We will just have to wait and see what Fish and Games says when they done with the autopsy. We have lots of guns, especially when we go out. Better safe than sorry.

      • You are reaching here Mathew. Here is Geoff York on these bears: “Polar bears have evolved as a what we’d call an “obligate predator.” They hunt other animals for the sole source of all of their calories. And they’ve specifically evolved for a high fat marine mammal diet. It’s almost impossible to replace, outside that marine environment. Those calories just don’t exist on shore, especially in the Arctic.”
        With good sea ice there, it’s just rare for such a situation to have happened. That said, they just don’t know (yet) the condition of said bear but do know that polar bears do not “regularly hunt humans for food.”

    • In Barrow, depending on the direction of the wind, the bears sometimes wander into town and have been found under porches. Kids are encouraged not to go out alone during the winter months. On Halloween, groups are chaperoned by armed adults. Bottom line, predators are opportunists.

  2. A roaming polar bear will wander through or be drawn into the communities along the Arctic coastline far more often than we learn about in news reports. The bear will usually continue on its way without causing trouble – that is if the bear is not spotted and promptly shot by a village resident. From personal observations of living for 24 years in an Arctic coast community, I found that a polar bear’s lifespan once it was seen in the village was no more than five minutes. The lucky bear will trod unseen through the village during the night, and one of them left behinds its footprints in the snow around my home. That put me on my toes.

    • You are correct. I once talked to an 18-year-old who had just come back from going out 35 miles on a snow go and harvested three polar bears. A mom and two Cubs however the two Cubs were bigger than she was because they were second year bears. I just shake my head at him and I said to him that that is man’s work. He just looked at me and said yeah. That boy fed the entire village on that day which was an honor. You have to cook the meat really well to get rid of all the parasites. In Gamble, polar bear were food and cash. They sold the skulls, the hide and the claws. I still have four polar bear claws to this day, some with a polar bear Ivory carving attached to it made out of walrus ivory. I consider them treasures.

  3. Having lived in Gamble on St Lawrence Island for a few years, polar bears were a common sight. You have to remember they’re the apex predator on land and pretty much fear nothing. Out there, people hunted them for food. I want saw three brought in at the same time. It was a reoccurring site to come out of your house walking to school while it’s still dark and see polar Bear tracks all the way there. Many times, polar bears are stranded on Islands when the ice goes out and have to spend the summer there eating bird eggs and whatever washes up on the beach. It’s unusual for them to attack people though. More than likely it was starving and was pretty old.

    • Wales is north of Nome. That’s not too far south. Gamble on St Lawrence island is further south than that and it’s a hundred miles out in the Bering Sea. Most of our bears out there came from Russia though I believe. Polar bears can swim 50 miles. It was only 30 mi to Russia but most that we saw walked there across the ice cap. When the ice went out, I guess they didn’t want to swim the heavy currents and opted to Summer on the island.

  4. Very sad story. Polar bears are 100% carnivores.
    This poor lady, through no fault of her own, will forever be remembered as the Paul Revere of climate change. Hopefully, she’s driving a monster gas guzzler in the great beyond.

    • Climate change is affecting their patterns along with other sea life such as walruses. They have fewer places to haul out. I once talked to an elder in Gamble that told stories of huge chunks of blue ice floating down the Bering strait as big as a courthouse but you don’t see those anymore.

  5. Huh?
    With all due respect, polar bears are predatory animals and it is the middle of winter. Anthropomorphism isn’t applicable here. Do you have any actual information not presented in this article to come to your assertions?
    My heart goes out to the family of this poor lady and I am grateful that other residents were swift to prevent further bloodshed.

  6. The term Rampage involves a large group of people and suggests this incident was bigger than it was. Yes, horribly 2 people died. It was not a rampage.

    That polar bears are in the same area is a basic consideration.

    • You are correct (for once), Maureen. “Rampage” was not an appropriate word choice here.
      .
      Now, if you want to talk about the nationwide riots, arson, looting and insurrection that was instigated and fostered by BLM, Antifa (sic) and other radical leftist elements in multiple cities in the summer of 2020, then “rampage” would be a very appropriate word choice.

    • No, rampage is correct. The bear entered the village chasing people before finally attacking and killing the woman and her one year old son. The bear was killed during the attack but was too late for her. I’d say The Bear went on a rampage.

    • The term rampage is elastic, Karen.

      Have you ever heard of the term rampage killer? Did you look up the definition of rampage in Merriam? :a course of violent, riotous, or reckless action or behavior.” How do you know it was not a rampage? Were you in Wales? Please fill us in with all the details. Or shall I correct you on using the term “incident” to describe a mother and son slaughtered by a polar bear while they were walking to the clinic in a ground storm? A family has lost two of its members and you call it an incident. How heartless. Now, do you see how easy it is to be you, the most negative, objectionable person on this forum? Try to be a better person.

  7. Before climate change existed in some heads, You knew not to venture outside the wagon circle of the vehicles out on the ice, for there was a dang good chance a completely healthy big fat polar was hanging around outside the circle in the dark just waiting for you to step a tad too far out. “Anyone seen Joe lately”

  8. Eskimos along the Alaskan Coast keep their garbage dump sites and whaling deposit sites (boneyards) open. Of course, this attracts bears. No different than people who have suburban run-ins with black bears. Without knowing all of the particulars, I would bet the bear was attracted to a dump site nearby and caught some off guard humans in it’s path.

    • Then you would be wrong. The bear entered the village chasing people. Most dump sites in The villages are located far enough away to isolate the two. Yes I saw a polar bear tracks in our in Gamble, but anyone that I ever saw shot was shot out on the ice and not in the village.

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