(NEW YORK) — A polar bear chased down and killed a woman and a young boy when it entered a remote village community in Alaska before a resident was able to shoot and kill the bear during the attack.
The incident occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday in Wales, Alaska — the westernmost point of the American mainland with an estimated population of about 170 people — when a polar bear reportedly entered the remote community, police said.
“Initial reports indicate that a polar bear had entered the community and had chased multiple residents,” according to a statement released by the Alaska Department of Public Safety on Tuesday in the aftermath of the attack. “The bear fatally attacked an adult female and juvenile male.”
The bear was shot and killed by a local resident as it attacked the victims, according to authorities.
Polar bear attacks are very rare but male polar bears can weigh anywhere from 600 to 1,200 pounds with female polar bears ranging between 400 and 700 pounds, according to the Alaska Department for Fish and Game. Their average life span is about 25 years.
“Current and predicted future declines in sea ice led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list polar bears as threatened under the ESA (Endangered Species Act) throughout their range,” according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “Thinner ice and longer ice-free periods in summer may reduce the length of time polar bears have to hunt, and result in population declines.”
An investigation into the attack is ongoing as “troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are working to travel to Wales as weather conditions allow,” the Alaska Department of Public Safety confirmed.
The identities of the victims have not yet been confirmed and the next of kin notifications are still in progress.
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