Boy, yesterday was exciting! We had a med-evac flight come in, then the rumors started flying… Then Sarah dropped off the latest issue of the Driftwood Dispatch – our local newspaper – for our copies to sell in the fly shop. Last page had the official report from our police department of the bear attack. I’m impressed that Sarah redid the last page within an hour of the plane taking off with the patient aboard. Rather than deal in rumors, here is what happened according to the Yakutat Public Safety Department.
And if I can put in a plug for the Driftwood Dispatch… Go to her web site http://www.driftwooddispatch.com/ and click on the “subscribe” button. It is well worth the dollar! Also in this issue, a full page spread of historical photos from Norm Israelson about the “Kayak” floating cannery – a WWII surplus mine sweeper that frequented Yakutat from the late 1940’s through the early 1970’s. My uncle Ron spent at least one college summer working on the Kayak back in the later 60’s. Also – info on the State Mental Health Trust land sale, nomination for most of Yakutat’s foreland as “Tier 3” designation, and much, much more…
Public Service Advisory
On May 13th, there was a bear mauling in the area of Callahonda Creek in Disenchantment Bay.
A 29-year-old male who was camping with family and friends left camp to collect water and was attacked by a large single brown bear. He suffered severe injuries to his lower extremities, scalp, and both shoulders. The attack lasted approximately 2 and a half minutes.
The victim was armed and making noise as he walked through the woods. He didn’t see the bear until he was being attacked and had no time to draw his weapon.
The call originally came in through the Coast Guard on Channel 16 and was relayed to the Yakutat Police Department (YPD). YPD and EMS responded and intercepted the boat as it was coming into town in Johnstone Pass with medical supplies and a doctor from the local clinic. They transferred supplies and the doctor to the other vessel and escorted them back to the boat harbor where EMS was waiting.
He was treated at the local clinic and was stable before he was medevaced out to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.
Yakutat Police Department and Alaska Department of Fish and Game are advising the public of the increased bear activity in and around that area. Be vigilant! Bears are hungry this time of year and more aggressive.
My personal experience up there near Callahonda Creek came several years ago on one of my kayaking trips to Hubbard. I had our two kayaks dropped off in the valley along the shore of Disenchantment Bay, with some of our supplies. Therm-a-rests, jugs of water, Coleman propane bottles. Nothing that would give off much scent and certainly no food. Our trip began the next day, so my two clients and I were dropped off at the kayaks by boat. A bear had dug in under the flipped-over kayaks to access the gear inside. He sucked on the propane bottles, popped all the water jugs and tore my two Therm-a-rests to pieces. No damage to the kayaks fortunately.
Unlike the bears around town and along the rivers of the forelands, there is very little food up there for the bears to eat. They can be very aggressive and desperate to fulfill their calorie needs. Our trip was in May right around now, but of course it was cold, rainy and the bay was completely clogged with ice flows. We had intended to stow the gear on Haenke Island where we would be camping, but the boat couldn’t make it through the thick ice to the island. We never saw the bear, but he was in our thoughts the rest of the week, since there is no fresh water supply on the island and we spent a great deal of time melting ice for drinking.
Disenchantment Bay is an amazing place, but a place of extremes. You need to be very careful and very aware of your surroundings and what can happen. These guys were aware and still were hit by tragedy. Be careful. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.