United States teen killed by bear in Alaska running race

A TEEN runner was mauled to death by a black bear while he was competing in a race on Sunday.

Patrick Cooper was fatally attacked by the beast as he ran the Black Ridge trail race in Alaska over the weekend.

Hundreds of runners and spectators from the area had gathered at the Bird Ridge trail on Sunday for the race, which has been held annually for 29 years.

Officials responded up the mountain to locate the boy, whose body was found about a mile up the path, at about 1,500 vertical feet. The bear was at the site, guarding the body, Mr Precosky said.

A park ranger eventually found the bear responsible and shot it but the animal managed to escape.

Alaska state troopers released a statement saying the boy's remains were transported from the scene and his next of kin were notified.

Ken Marsh, a spokesman for Alaska's Department of Fish and Game, said that state park staffers were out on Monday, searching the area where the teen's body was discovered, trying to find the bear that mauled Cooper.

Defensive attacks - bears feel threatened or want to protect their young - include the classic example of someone rounding a corner and running into a sow bear with cubs.

The mining company told KTVA that the bear involved in the attack was killed at the direction of Alaska Wildlife Troopers. Bear sightings are common in that part of Alaska, and runners know to be wary, Precosky said.

"It's very unusual", Marsh said.

"I got a text saying the Global Positioning System coordinates were accurate and that the bear was onsite guarding the body, and they needed a weapon". When they got to the right spot, he lay motionless, a 250-pound black bear standing over him. Black bears killed three. "All I knew was there was a boy missing, and missing in bear country". That's when the 16-year-old Anchorage boy encountered the black bear that would take his life in a rare predatory attack.

Authorities shot the bear in the face with a shotgun, but apparently it disappeared into the brush and is thought to still be wandering the trails.

But competitors often train alone in such areas and are fully aware of the dangers. Races actually can be said to cut down on the risk of a bear encounter because so many people are there, making noise and making their presence known, Precosky said. He said that there might not be a safer time to be on a mountain than during a race.

Brown bears killed 15 people in that 35-year period, according to Hechtel.

  • Salvatore Jensen