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Alaska National Guardsman mauled by bear during training exercise

- Associated Press - Monday, July 21, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- An Alaska National Guard soldier was mauled by a bear while participating in a training exercise at a military base, officials said.

The female brown bear was defending her two cubs when it mauled the Alaska Army National Guard soldier Sunday morning at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.

The soldier's name was not immediately released. He was listed in stable condition Sunday afternoon at the base hospital. No other details about his condition were immediately available.

The soldier was participating in a land navigation exercise, according to Guard spokeswoman Maj. Candis Olmstead. The exercise involves giving soldiers compasses and maps and timing them as they make their way alone to hidden locations on the course.

The soldier was going through the woods when he encountered the bear and her cubs late Sunday morning.

"He dropped to the ground, covered his head and remained still," Olmstead said.

The bear approached the soldier, swatting at him and biting him before retreating after about 30 seconds. The soldier blew a safety whistle, alerting medics stationed nearby, Olmstead said.

The soldier was not armed at the time of the mauling, and Olmstead said she didn't know if he was carrying bear spray.

Sunday's attack was the second mauling at the base in about two months.

Jessica Gamboa was badly mauled May 18 as she jogged on a trail and encountered a bear and her two cubs.

Gamboa, the wife of a soldier stationed at the base, has said she didn't scream or fight during the attack, and the bear left her bleeding in an embankment. She sustained cuts to her neck, arms and legs, a torn ear and neck fractures.

She was rushed to a hospital by a soldier who was driving by when he saw her walking down the road holding both hands to her bleeding neck.

It was not immediately clear whether the same bear was involved in both maulings.

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