'He only had two bullets left': Grizzly bear terrorises Alaska frontiersman for a week

·3-min read

A man has been rescued after being terrorised for a week by a grizzly bear in the Alaska wilderness.

Experts said it was unusual for someone to be attacked repeatedly by the same bear over a period of time.

The victim, who has not been identified, had just two rounds of ammunition left, and had suffered injuries to his leg and torso, when he was spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter.

He crawled towards the helicopter waving a white flag in the air.

The encounter was reminiscent of the plot of The Revenant in which Leonardo DiCaprio's fur trapper character is mauled by a grizzly bear and left for dead in the wild.

DiCaprio won an Oscar for his performance, but in his case the bear was computer-generated.

In the real-life struggle the modern day frontiersman was attacked at a remote mining camp, about 40 miles from Nome, where he had been staying in a shack since July 12.

Nome is a town of less than 4,000 people near the Bering Strait.

A grizzly bear in the wild - Reuters
A grizzly bear in the wild - Reuters

It was unclear how the man got from Nome to the camp, where he was alone, and there was no phone reception for him to call for help.

The bear initially attacked him and dragged him toward a river before he escaped and got back to his shack.

He then spent several nights repelling the bear, and not sleeping, but was about to run out of bullets.

The door was ripped off the shack where he was sheltering.

He climbed on top of the shack and wrote "SOS" and "help me" on the tin roof.

The Coast Guard helicopter passed over him by chance after diverting to avoid some clouds.

It was on its way from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak to Nome to pick up some researchers who wanted to look for dead whales and walruses along the coastline.

The crew on board then saw the man waving both arms in the air. They circled back and landed.

Lt Cmdr Jared Carbajal, the helicopter pilot, told the New York Times: "At some point a bear had dragged him down to the river.

"He had a pistol. He said that the bear kept coming back every night and he hadn’t slept in a few days."

bear - Getty
bear - Getty

AJ Hammac, the co-pilot, said he looked down and saw the man, who appeared to be aged about 60, staggering out of the shack.

He said: “We don’t really come across people in the middle of nowhere. He was kind of struggling. When we came around he was on his hands and knees waving a white flag.

"He definitely looked like he had been out there for a while."

The man had taped up the injury to his leg and was also bruised on his torso from his encounter with the bear.

The flight to Nome took about 15 minutes and, after the helicopter landed, the man refused to get on a stretcher, instead walking to an ambulance on his injured leg.

An Alaska Coast Guard spokeswoman told the New York Times: "He only had two rounds left. I’d imagine you’d be a little loopy after not sleeping for so long."

The man's injuries were not life-threatening.

Grizzly bears are common in the area where he was staying, particularly at the time of year.

Between 2001 and 2017, 10 people were killed in bear attacks in Alaska and 68 were treated in hospital.

Already in 2021 five people have been killed in bear attacks in North America. Four died in the whole of 2020, and two in 2019.

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