A woman and a boy were fatally attacked by a polar bear in Alaska on Tuesday, authorities said.
The bear went on a rampage in the small community of Wales, and a resident fatally shot the polar bear as it attacked the woman and the child, the state Public Safety Department said in a dispatch.
The identities of the two couldn’t be publicly released because authorities were still notifying their families, the department said. Their ages were also unavailable.
The attack was reported about 2:30 p.m.
“Initial reports indicate that a polar bear had entered the community and had chased multiple residents,” the dispatch reads.
An investigation was under way but could take time. Troopers and state Department of Fish and Game officials will travel there when weather conditions allow it, according to the dispatch.
A Fish and Game Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fatal polar bear attacks have been rare in Alaska’s recent history. In 1990, a polar bear killed a man farther north of Wales in the village of Point Lay. Biologists later said the animal showed signs of starvation, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
A 2017 study found that polar bear attacks on humans increased this century and were more likely to occur when sea ice covered the least amount of ground — July through December. Researchers said that as the ice recedes, the bears are more likely to move inland and face humans.
Wales is a village of fewer than 200 residents on the Seward Peninsula about 100 miles northwest of Nome. The Native Village of Wales Tribal Council website describes it as “one of the oldest communities in the Bering Strait region.”
The Associated Press