Students return from mountaineering class after bear mauling


An Alaska professor is recovering this morning after being mauled by a bear while on a mountaineering trip with his students and teaching assistants, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported.

The nine students and two teaching assistants who were with him on the outing returned to Juneau on Tuesday but said they were exhausted and not yet ready to talk about what happened. After the attack, one of the students hiked down the mountain to get mobile phone reception and call for help.

Wagner was flown to the intensive care unit at an Anchorage hospital in critical condition, but he is now listed in serious condition.

His condition was not immediately available, but the university said he was stable. No students were hurt, but they were evacuated from the mountain when the bear, who had cubs, was seen again, according to Alaska State Troopers.

According to Wagner’s teaching schedule, he was scheduled to come down off of the mountain by Tuesday.

Wagner has been working as an outdoors instructor since 2006, teaching various courses such as outdoor leadership, ice climbing, backcountry navigation, rock climbing, glacier travel, crevasse rescue and mountaineering.

Police from the remote community of Haines called in state troopers, who chartered a private helicopter to take Mr Wagner off the mountain. He was picked up by a helicopter on the mountain, then transferred to a medical helicopter once he reached Haines.

University spokeswoman Katie Bausler says UAS professor Kevin Krein flew to Haines from Juneau to be with the students after the attack. Haines is about 90 miles north of Juneau and more than 500 miles from Anchorage.

University Chancellor Rick Caulfield was waiting at the Juneau ferry terminal when the students arrived late Tuesday evening.

Mr Wagner is the second man to be attacked by a bear in Alaska within days.

A University of Alaska Southeast spokeswoman says Forest Wagner was with a group of 11 students and two teaching assistants on Mount Emmerich near Haines, Alaska, on Monday when he was attacked.

The 135-mile road runs east to west and connects the Richardson and Parks highways east of Denali National Park.

This April 2, 2016, photo provided by Gemini Waltz Media shows Forest Wagner at a Eaglecrest Ski Area in Douglas, Alaska.

Wildlife troopers, employees of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and friends of Bohn removed the bear from the field Saturday.

Kim Earnest

The author Kim Earnest

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