Speed Reads

bears

Increase in bear attacks leaving Alaska officials bewildered

In less than a week, four people were attacked by bears in Alaska, with two dying from their injuries.

Brown bears are more likely to attack people, and even that's rare, which is why the involvement of black bears in the two fatal attacks is worrying officials. "All of a sudden you have two in the course of two days, it's a lightning strike," wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott told CBS. Alaskan officials are telling residents to carry bear spray or a gun while hiking, running, or biking through bear habitat, and if attacked, to throw rocks at the bear or hit it in the face, rather than run away or play dead.

On June 18, Jack Cooper, 16, was running a race near Anchorage when a black bear chased him and ultimately killed him. The bear was shot in the face by a park ranger, but it escaped, and later, state biologists killed four black bears in the area, including the one they believe attacked Cooper. The next day, Erin Johnson was near a mine southeast of Fairbanks, collecting geological samples, when she encountered a "hyper-aggressive" bear. She died and a colleague was injured, and the next day, the bear was killed by officials. Authorities say on Saturday, two men were bicycling in the woods near Anchorage when a brown bear attacked one of them; the other man used bear spray to repel the animal, which was likely guarding a cub nearby.