Man who endured weeklong attacks by grizzly bear rescued after SOS spotted | Alaska

It reads like the plot of a thriller movie or page-turning novel.

A man in Alaska was rescued, injured but alive, after enduring repeated attacks by a grizzly bear that kept on returning to his isolated hut in the wilderness, from which he had no way of contacting the outside world.

The unnamed man’s ordeal was detailed in the New York Times, which described the story as “a weeklong ordeal that could pass as a sequel to The Revenant”. It ended only when a fortuitously passing coast guard helicopter spotted the man desperately waving for help and having written SOS and “Help me” on the roof of his tin shack.

The paper said the man in his 50s or 60s had been alone at a mining camp about 40 miles from the isolated town of Nome when he encountered the bear, which had attacked him and dragged him down to a river.

The man, who was armed with a pistol, escaped but then endured repeated attacks over about a week. “He said that the bear kept coming back every night and he hadn’t slept in a few days,” Lt Cmdr Jared Carbajal, one of the pilots of the coast guard helicopter, told the Times.

He was only spotted when the helicopter had changed its course slightly to avoid some clouds. The chopper spotted the man’s distress and swiftly landed to find him with a bandaged leg and waving a white flag of some kind. The door of his tin shack had also been torn off.

“We don’t really come across people in the middle of nowhere,” said co-pilot Lt AJ Hammac. “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,” he said.

The helicopter was on its way from Kotzebue to Nome on a mission to take some scientists to search for dead whales, walruses and seals along the coast.

“If we would have been in the next river valley over,” Cdr Carbajal said, “we would have totally missed him.”

The man is now recovering from his ordeal.

Grizzly bears have been coming into an increasing number of conflicts with humans in the American west as the federally protected animals expand into new areas and the number of people living and recreating in the region grows. A cyclist was killed by a bear in Montana in July, and a guide was killed in April while fishing along the Yellowstone national park border in south-western Montana.

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