September 10, 2021
On September 8, 2021, 39-year-old Jason Long was on a backcountry hunt in the Alaskan wilderness near the Chisana River in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Jason had left the side of his hunting companion and was alone when he first encountered the sow and her two cubs. After being viciously mauled, Jason was lucky enough to activate the SOS button on his Garmin Inreach device and sound the alarm for the Air National Guard rescue team.
In coordination with the National Park Service, the Air National Guard's HH-60 Pave Hawk II was called off its routine airborne mission and diverted to the SOS location sent by the device. A two-man pararescue team was dropped on the scene to treat and prepare Jason for transport to the nearest hospital via helicopter.
The helicopter rendezvoused with a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II to air-to-air refuel before returning to the hunter’s location to hoist the pararescue team, the hunter, and an accompanying member of the hunting party. The hunter was brought to Northway, AK where he was transferred to the HC-130 for transport to the Joint Base Elmendorf -Richardson (JBER). At JBER, the hunter was transferred to a JBER-based 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60 for transport to the Providence Alaska Medical Center and released to medical personnel. The last known condition of the patient was that he was stable.
Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved. Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.
Know that when you enter the backcountry, you are no longer the peak predator. Grizzly bears will be there. Prepare yourself for an encounter and stay alert. If you're looking for the proper way to defend yourself from a dangerous attack like this, then check out our article on the best self-defense bear guns.