Right after graduating, a law school classmate of mine was eaten by a grizzly while camping in Alaska. The grizzly just cut into his tent and consumed him.
They need to build bridges over the trails so the animals don't intermingle with the hikers. (sarcasm)
Why did he shoot into the air when the poor kid was being attacked?
Hmmmm... well I guess you had to be there.
Paul Fletcher, the trip leader and former Alaska resident, said he taught the boys and adults on bear safety. >>
An experienced hiker once told me that when hiking in Alaska in Grizzly territory, one must hike with a cow bell or other noise making device while you walk. This should scare away the bear before he sees you.
When are they going to hunt down and shoot these damn children who startle the poor grizzly, causing the angelic bear to engage in his natural behavior of attacking anything that dares startle him? Sarcasm off.
Alex Benson, 15, was recovering at Providence Alaska Medical on Friday after undergoing surgery.
Alex Benson is given water by tour leader Paul Fletcher as he recovers in his room at Providence Alaska Medical Center on Friday evening. Benson was among a group of Boy Scouts from Texas brought to Alaska for a 50-mile hiking trip on Resurrection Pass Trail.
Alex Benson, who was on a six-day hike with his home state Scout troop, was working on his 50-mile badge hiking the Resurrection Pass Trail from Hope to Cooper Landing. Just half an hour from the end of the hike, he startled the brown bear on the trail and was bitten at least twice before the bear ran off. The boy was left with a shredded arm and puncture wounds in his leg.
Benson, interviewed at his hospital bed, described the bear, which also swatted at the teenager while he was on the ground, as twice his size.
Benson was among two dozen 13- to 16-year-old boys and their fathers who left Texas last week for the Boy Scout trip to Alaska. Trip leader and former Alaska resident Paul Fletcher planned the hike for Troop 262 of Plano, Texas, near Dallas. He schooled the boys and adults on bear safety, and three fathers carried handguns and four boys carried bear spray on the trek.
Despite their bear-awareness training, which emphasized that the hikers make noise, Mikey McFatter, 13, said the group was silent. The four were spaced around seven paces behind each other. McFatter, in a telephone interview, said he couldn't hear his father behind him or his friend in front of him.
Then Benson turned a corner and nearly fell on top of the bear. "I think I caught it going to the bathroom," Benson said.
He doesn't remember what the bear bit first -- his leg or his arm. But he remembers its head right next to his, its teeth in him, and it thrashing. He remembers being on his stomach, with his backpack taking the brunt of the attack.
McFatter saw the bear leap onto his friend's backpack and rip the sleeping bag. Benson screamed for help and put his hands and legs up to shield himself.
McFatter and Aaron Chapman, 15, screamed, "Bear!" and Mike McFatter, Mikey's father, fired into the air with his .45-caliber handgun.
Whether spooked by the boy's screaming, the gunshot or its own instincts to get out of there, the bear quickly retreated down the trail. McFatter shot a second and third round into the air. The attack, the Scouts said, lasted less than 10 seconds.
Benson was on the ground when Mike McFatter got to him. He was ashen, shaking and crying. Benson's sleeping bag was shredded, cords were ripped. Fletcher, who arrived at the attack site later, said, "His arm was like a hunk of meat."
But, Chapman said, his tears were also of joy. "He was so happy to still be alive. He was really happy."
Troopers believe the bear was an adult.
"The bear attacked quickly," troopers spokesman Greg Wilkinson said. Its behavior, he said, was consistent with a surprised bear. "It was doing what bears are supposed to do. There is no reason to kill it," he said, in explaining the decision to not go after the bear.
Fletcher said Benson is expected to be out of the hospital by early next week.
When back in Texas, Fletcher said, "this boy's going to have bragging rights at school."
Actually I have stopped taking walks around our property because of the Black Bear problem here.
This poor kid's gonna have nightmares for a loooong while.
I'm glad he's alive.