(NEW YORK) — A young woman and her baby son were killed by a polar bear when the animal entered their remote village in Alaska and chased several people, according to authorities.
The incident occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the Wales, Alaska — the westernmost point of the American mainland with an estimated population of about 170 people — when a polar bear reportedly entered the remote community, police said.
Investigators revealed Wednesday that the victims were Summer Myomick, 24, of St. Michael, and her son Clyde Ongtowasruk. The attack on the mother and child took place near a school, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety.
“Initial reports indicate that a polar bear had entered the community and had chased multiple residents,” according to a statement released by the agency on Tuesday in the aftermath of the attack. “The bear fatally attacked an adult female and juvenile male.”
The bear was shot and killed by a local resident as it attacked the victims, according to authorities.
An investigation into the attack is ongoing as “troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are working to travel to Wales as weather conditions allow,” the Alaska Department of Public Safety confirmed.
“Poor weather conditions in the region and the lack of runway lights in Wales prevented Troopers and Alaska Department of Fish and Game personnel from making it to Wales,” the agency said in a statement Wednesday.
Polar bear attacks are very rare but male polar bears can weigh anywhere from 600 to 1,200 pounds with female polar bears ranging between 400 and 700 pounds, according to the Alaska Department for Fish and Game. Their average life span is about 25 years.
“Current and predicted future declines in sea ice led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list polar bears as threatened under the ESA (Endangered Species Act) throughout their range,” according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “Thinner ice and longer ice-free periods in summer may reduce the length of time polar bears have to hunt, and result in population declines.”
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.