WALES, Alaska: In a rare attack, a polar bear chased several residents of the isolated Alaska Native whaling village of Wales, killing a mother and her son before another community member shot and killed the bear, local authorities report.
The first fatal attack in more than 30 years in Alaska, the mauling of Summer Myomick of Saint Michael and her one-year-old son, Clyde Ongtowasruk, happened this week on the isolated Bering Strait coastal community, located on the westernmost tip of the North American mainland, some 50 miles from Russia.
Bering Strait School District chief administrator Susan Nedza told the Anchorage Daily News that school officials rushed people into the building after the polar bear was spotted.
"The bear tried to enter with them, but Principal Dawn Hendrickson slammed the door to keep it out," she said, as quoted by the Associated Press.
Virginia Washington, Saint Michael city administrator, said that Myomick split time between two communities, stating, "It is very, very sad for Saint Michael right now, and Wales. She was a very sweet lady. She was very responsible."
On its website, the Alaska Nannut Co-Management Council, which was created to represent "the collective Alaska Native voice in polar bear co-management," said that polar bears near or entering villages are ongoing safety concerns for communities located in polar bear territory.
Joseph Jessup McDermott, executive director of the Alaska Nannut Co-Management Council, which represents tribes that have hunted polar bears for subsistence, said the bear patrol in Wales "is not currently active because it essentially lost what funding it had."