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US soldier mauled to death by bear in military training area

An American soldier in a military training area in Alaska was attacked by a bear and has died.

The US Army identified the soldier who was mauled on Tuesday as Staff Sgt Seth Michael Plant, 30. Plant was pronounced dead at a Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hospital in Anchorage.

Another soldier sustained minor injuries in the bear attack that occurred in a remote area of the military base that is west of the Anchorage landfill.

A den with two brown bear cubs was discovered close to the scene, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. A brown bear went to the area after the attack and officers used bear spray to deter it, causing it to leave, the department stated.

Officials collected hair from the site of the attack that matched that of the brown bear seen later. It appeared to be a ‘defensive attack by a female bear protecting her cubs’, said a regional supervisor for the department, Cyndi Wardlow.

Game cameras installed as part of the mauling investigation showed that an adult bear returned to the area and then departed its den with its cubs. The bear’s whereabouts were not known after the attack.

‘We are trying to learn everything we can about what happened to increase public safety around wildlife in Alaska,’ Wardlow said.

The department can kill bears that are involved in fatal attacks or deemed threats to the public.

Plant, of Saint Augustine, Florida, was stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson beginning in July 2021. He served as an infantryman from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

He ‘always had a smile on his face, he always went above and beyond what was asked of him, and he served as an inspiration to all who had the privilege to know him’, said Lt Col David Nelson of the same regiment.

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