An outdoor education instructor who was injured in a bear mauling near Haines on Monday was said to be in serious condition at Providence Hospital in Anchorage Tuesday afternoon. That is an improvement from the morning, when he was in critical condition.
Thirty-five-year-old University of Alaska Assistant Professor Forest Wagner was with a group of nine students and two teaching assistants on Mt. Emmerich on Monday when Wagner was attacked by what state troopers say was a sow with cubs.
Wagner is an experienced outdoors instructor and guide who has taught at UAS since 2006.
University spokeswoman Katie Bausler says UAS professor Kevin Krein flew to Haines from Juneau to be with the students after the attack.
“The instructor who is with them says the students are doing well, and that he’s very proud in how they conducted themselves in getting Forest to safety utilizing their wilderness, first aid, and mountain safety skills.”
Bausler says the students were on a five-day Mountaineering 1 class that was scheduled to end Tuesday. She says they were descending Mt. Emmerich when the attack happened. Local police received a call just before noon on Monday from a student who had hiked down to get a phone signal.
Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters said Tuesday that one person who was there said they saw a bear cub, so Troopers are assuming it was a sow with cubs that attacked Wagner. Peters said she does not know if it was a brown or black bear.
The class was evacuated from the area by Temsco Helicopters. They plan to take the ferry back to Juneau Tuesday afternoon.
Wagner is originally from Fairbanks. He teaches mountaineering, backcountry navigation and travel, ice climbing, rock climbing, and outdoor leadership and has led many expedition courses. He also works as a guide.
This story has been updated to reflect an improvement in Wagner’s medical condition as of Tuesday afternoon — from critical to serious.
Correction: Due to an error in information provided by the University of Alaska, this story has been updated to correct the number of students on the mountaineering trip.