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Soldier Attacked By Grizzly At Alaska Military Base

By Michelle Theriault Boots, Alaska Dispatch News, Anchorage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A National Guard soldier was mauled by a brown bear on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson while participating in a training exercise Sunday morning, officials said.

A base release said the soldier was mauled by a sow defending her cubs — the second such attack in just more than two months on the Anchorage base.

The soldier was in stable condition as of Sunday afternoon. His name had not yet been released.

The Alaska Army National Guard soldier was a participant in a daylong “land navigation exercise,” said Alaska National Guard spokeswoman Maj. Candis Olmstead. During the exercise, soldiers are given a compass and map and are timed as they navigate alone to hidden locations on the course.

At about 11:45 a.m. the soldier was traveling through the woods when he encountered a sow with two cubs, Olmstead said.

“He dropped to the ground, covered his head, and remained still,” she said.

The bear approached him, biting and “swatting” at him. After about 30 seconds, the bear retreated and the soldier blew a safety whistle, alerting medics stationed nearby, she said.

Olmstead said the soldier was not armed at the time of the attack. She said she did not know if he was carrying bear spray.

The soldier was taken to the base hospital for treatment.

Details about the location and circumstances of the mauling were scarce Sunday; Olmstead said she could not say where exactly on base the soldier encountered the bear or answer questions about JBER wildlife activity and management.

A call to a base spokeswomanwas not returned Sunday.

Just more than two months ago, Jessica Gamboa was jogging on aJBER trail when she was mauled by a brown bear sow, also apparently defending cubs.

After the attack, Gamboa walked bleeding from slashes on her arms and head more than a mile uphill to the highway where her pickup truck was parked, Alaska Dispatch News reported at the time.

It’s not clear what happened to the brown bear believed to have attacked Gamboa.

Earlier this month, runner Suzanna Knudsen was mauled when she came upon a sow with cubs in Bird Valley, just south of Anchorage.

Photo via WikiCommons

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‘Pipe Bomb’ Discovered In Carry-On Luggage At Anchorage Airport

By Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Transportation Security Administration agents found what Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport police have described as a “pipe bomb” in the carry-on luggage of a man ticketed on an oil worker flight to the North Slope Sunday, forcing an hour shutdown of the security checkpoint.

The man initially claimed the small explosive was an “avalanche device,” said Jesse Davis, chief of the airport’s police and fire department.

“I don’t know of any avalanche dangers up on the North Slope,” he said.

The FBI is interviewing the man, whose name has not yet been released, Davis said.

Police downplayed the incident, saying the public was never in danger and the pipe bomb appeared to lack a triggering device.

No motive is yet known.

At 1:55 p.m., screeners at the Anchorage airport’s only security checkpoint for ticketed passengers discovered the small explosive device in the carry-on luggage of a man ticketed on a Shared Services Aviation flight, Davis said in a phone interview Sunday night.

Shared Services Aviation is a joint service of ConocoPhillips and BP that flies oil company employees and contractors to the North Slope.

When the device was discovered, the TSA cleared passengers from a 300-foot radius around the security checkpoint where the explosive was discovered, said Sharon Long, an airport operations officer.

The citywide Explosive Ordinance Disposal team arrived and took the device off-site, Davis said.

The pipe bomb lacked a triggering device, he said. “It appeared based on their knowledge that it wasn’t an immediate danger to the traveling public.”

There was no airport-wide announcement about what was going on, Davis said.

The security checkpoint was back up and running by about 3 p.m., Long said.

Some flights may have been delayed due to an hour lapse in passenger screening, according to Davis.

An Anchorage FBI spokeswoman did not immediately respond to phone calls about the case Sunday night.

Photo: Shyb via Flickr