A Fairbanks man and University of Alaska assistant professor was airlifted to an Anchorage hospital from Haines on Monday afternoon after being mauled by a bear nine miles west of town. Alaska State Troopers said 35-year-old Forest Wagner was with a group of about a dozen students from the University of Alaska Southeast on Mount Emmerich taking part in a mountaineering course.
Troopers got the call just before noon on Monday from the local police department.
Wagner’s condition was unknown late Monday afternoon.
Troopers didn’t know what kind of bear attacked Wagner, but spokesperson Megan Peters said it was a sow with cubs. According to the report, another student hiked down the mountain to get cell service and call for help.
The university arranged for the students to be lifted off the mountain.
“While they were up there, the bear was sighted again, or what they believed to be the bear, so the university arranged to get the rest of the people up there, off the mountain,” said Peters.
University of Alaska spokesperson Katie Bausler said all the students are safe.
Wagner’s next of kin have been notified.
Ken Marsh is a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He said the bears are out a little earlier than usual.
“My understanding is that yeah, it’s a little bit early this year and I think it’s probably the results of the mild winter and early spring that we’ve had. Bears are out and also at the same time, with some nice weather happening, there’s a lot of people out as well.”
Marsh said area biologist Stephanie Sell will meet with the group of students this week to get the details on the incident.
This is the second reported bear attack in Alaska in the last three days. A man was attacked near the Denali Highway in the Interior over the weekend.
KHNS will have updates on this story as we get them.
This story has been updated to add Forest Wagner’s role as a University of Alaska assistant professor.