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Bear mauls hunter on Hinchinbrook
SKETCHY: Anchorage man reportedly hospitalized after sow with cub attacked him.


By Craig Medred
Anchorage Daily News

(Published: November 27, 2002)
An Anchorage deer hunter was reported to be in a hospital here Tuesday after being attacked by a brown bear on Hinchinbrook Island west of Cordova, but details were sketchy.
Alaska State Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson identified the hunter as 36-year-old Michael Harmening, a surveyor who lives on the Hillside. A woman who answered the phone at Harmening's home Tuesday confirmed that he'd been mauled by a bear and said that he was at Providence Alaska Medical Center.
The Alaska Air National Guard reported delivering him there after a helicopter evacuation from Hinchinbrook to Cordova, and a flight by a C-130 aircraft to Anchorage late Monday.
A Providence nursing supervisor, however, said there appeared to be no record of treating Harmening. Neither of Anchorage's other hospitals reported him as a patient, either.
State Fish and Wildlife Protection officers were on their way to Hinchinbrook Island Tuesday to try to figure out what happened. Wilkinson said it appears Harmening might have been attacked by a sow and a nearly grown cub around midday Monday.
"The sow is dead," Wilkinson said.
The Fish and Wildlife Protection office in Cordova and area wildlife biologist Dave Crowley with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said no one knew what had happened to what was reported to be a 2-year-old cub with the sow.
Wilkinson said Harmening told a trooper in Cordova that he'd been charged by the cub, and snapped off a "hip shot" in its direction.
"He's not sure whether he hit it or not," Wilkinson said.
Air National Guard Sgt. Kenneth Bellamy, one of several people involved in evacuating Harmening from Hinchinbrook, said the hunter was with a friend when they stumbled into a sow and a cub.
The sow, Bellamy said, "just grabbed him by the leg and flung him."
It was after that, Bellamy added, that Harmening and his friend apparently killed the bear and begun trying to summon help. The short-range radios the men had were just good enough to reach from a Forest Service cabin on the east side of the island to the fishing vessel Morning Thunder at Johnstone Point.
Vessel owner Michael Glasen said he used another radio on his boat to relay a call to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard notified the Air National Guard.
"I don't know very much," Glasen said. "We just helped those folks at the cabin communicate with the Coast Guard. I didn't actually meet those folks, so I didn't see firsthand."
Fish and Wildlife troopers had yet to complete an investigation of the incident. It is legal to shoot a bear in self-defense in Alaska, but a defense of life and property report must be filed, and the hunter is required by law to salvage the hide and skull for the state.
No report had been filed Tuesday. Given that Harmening was hurt, troopers said they were going to try to take care of skinning the bear. The state usually sells the hides at an annual auction.
Crowley, the wildlife biologist, noted that brown bears on Hinchinbrook Island are usually in their dens by now. Sows with cubs are also usually the first to take refuge for the winter.
"But we're having such a balmy fall and winter," Crowley said. "There are still bears roaming around here and there."
"It is so warm it is astounding," added Cordova's Glasen. "It is an amazing thing. With these temperatures staying up, maybe these bears don't know" it's time to den.
The temperature in Cordova on Tuesday was pushing 50 degrees, more like September than November.
 

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Bear mauls hunter on Hinchinbrook. Our bear

Dave,

As exciting as it must be out there in the wilderness, you do have your disadvantages at times. It's great that everyone is willing to help out his neighbor! I don't evev want to guess how much an airlift with a C130 w/crew would cost ?????? Freaky weather for sure.
Here in Central NY we've received a few inches of snow with more coming for the weekend. It looks very Christmassy for the holiday. Hope your Thanksgiving will be memorable and blessed with your family around you.
Stay safe and shoot straight.

savageT
 

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Bear mauls hunter on Hinchinbrook. Our bear

:(
I've actually done some work with Mike, if it's the same one I know. I don't know if he weren't expecting the bears to be out or if it was just one of them things that happen. He's pretty bear smart. I believe he's an inspector for the Bureau of Land Management.
 

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Who is it!

Someone on another site knows him and I asked what his handle is. I have not heard back yet but will let you guys know when I recieve a reply.

Warm here too, five records last month, 2.3+ inches of rain on Friday. Crazy weather!
 

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Yukon

The guy on the other site said that mike worked for BLM as a surveyor. I asked what his handle was and he could not give it to me, wasn't sure if he ever used forums.

All I can find out.
 

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Update on Mike.

From Aleyska338 on another site:

I spoke with a couple of friends who visited Mike over the weekend and he is doing fine. It may take him a while to get full use of his legs, but there was no nerve or tendon damage. Apparently they surprised a sow and her older cub on a kill and were charged. One bite to his thigh deflected off of his femur (luckily didn't penetrate or break the femur, just glanced off of it) and there are no signs of infection. From what I can gather, he killed the sow after she dropped him and came back charging.
 

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Bear mauls hunter on Hinchinbrook. Our bear

That's amazing Dave! How many thousands of square miles in Alaska, and you know someone who is friends with this man. Send along our good wishes and Gods Speed.

savageT
 

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Alaska is the biggest smallest state there is.

It is not hard up here to travel to Anchorage, walk into the airport and see someone you know. I run into people from all over the state that I know. True Alaskans are a breed of their own.

A few years ago I was between jobs, living in my pickup truck in a parking lot in Anchorage. I decided to head to Fairbanks to check the teacher placement center for jobs so I emailed a friend in Nome to let him know where I was headed. As I sat working on the computers at the placement center I heard someone say; "Boy your hard to find.!" It was the friend from Nome, he had come to Fairbanks, gave me the key to his cabin in Delta and directions to it. Said I could stay there as long as I needed and not to worry.

We tend to help others up here and demand nothing in return. I rescue motorists all the time. Last winter the trooper here needed assistance with a problem in the bush. He asked for a little help from a group of guys expecting none. The next day as he arrived at the parking area where he needed to be he found seven snow machiners there ready to help him.

I think that is why I love it here so. People willing to do everything for you, asking nothing in return. :grin:
 

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small population of Alaska

Yeah, though there are 1,000's of square miles there aren't many people and we tend to know our neighbors and most of the towns. I never say goodbye to folks - more like see you around 'cause I know I will. Just passing through the Anchorage airport yesterday I saw one friend who used to live in Bethel and now lives in Kodiak, two aquaintances who live in King Salmon, and several of my Dillingham neighbors and friends. Once while living in Sand Point (AK) I got a wrong number call from a person looking for a Mary who I knew from Dutch Harbor some 200 miles away - but I had happened to see Mary in Cold Bay and she had said she was headed to King Cove for work. So I told the wrong number caller to call the King Cove cannery and harbor master and they'd probably find her. The whole state can be like one small town - especially if you live in the bush.

Sure hope the bear victim recovers well - please pass on my best wishes.
 
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