Anchorage man mauled by a bear near Yakutat

An Anchorage man was mauled by a brown bear near Yakutat over the weekend.

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(Photo courtesy of ADFG)
(Photo courtesy of ADFG)

29-year-old Kenneth Steck was medevacked to Providence Medical Center in Anchorage on Friday, after suffering extensive bite wounds.

According to Yakutat police, Steck went camping in Disenchantment Bay on Thursday, near Callahonda Creek, with his wife and several other friends. The group was armed, and planning to hunt for black bear if they saw any.

On Friday, Steck left camp on his own to get water from the creek when he was attacked by a large brown bear. Although he had a weapon, he was unable to draw it in time to use it. According to police, the attack may have lasted up to two minutes before others from Steck’s party arrived to drive off the animal.

Steck reportedly suffered severe wounds to his lower leg, scalp, and shoulder. He received first aid from his wife, Hannah, an RN, and two other RN’s in the party. Their call to the Coast Guard was overheard by the Yakutat Police Department. Officer Jeff Lee reported to the Yakutat Clinic to collect additional medical supplies. Lee and clinic staffer Mark Schultz traveled aboard the Yakutat harbor master boat and met the campers in Johnstone Passage, and began administering advanced medical care.

Steck was stabilized at the Yakutat clinic and medevacked to Providence in Anchorage. Hospital officials confirmed that he has since been released.

Officer Lee says the attack appears to have been unprovoked. The bear is presumed to be a boar, rather than a female with cubs. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has been doing DNA studies in the area. The department will attempt to collect DNA samples from the victim’s clothing, but Lee says the biologists he’s spoken with think it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to identify the bear responsible for the attack.

This is the second mauling in Southeast so far this spring. On April 18, a UAS outdoor instructor, Forest Wagner, was seriously mauled in Haines while teaching a class. He was hospitalized for about 3 weeks.