The US Army said in a press release on Thursday that a paratrooper was killed in Alaska after being mauled and killed by a bear, who wildlife authorities say was just trying to protect her cubs.
Paratrooper Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant was transported to a hospital on the Army base where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The military said another soldier was also injured during the attack, though was treated for minor injuries and released later that day from the hospital.
Staff Sgt. Plant was an infantryman from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment and was said to have been working at a training sight on Joint Base Elmendorf- Richardson (JBER) when the bear attack happened.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the attack happened at a remote part of the military base and they were called to the scene where they found a bear den nearby with two brown bear cubs in it.
“From everything we know so far, based on the scene investigation and information from other responding agencies, this appears to be a defensive attack by a female bear protecting her cubs,” Cyndi Wardlow, Southcentral Regional Supervisor for the department said in the press release. “We are trying to learn everything we can about what happened to increase public safety around wildlife in Alaska.”
If the evidence shows that the bear in the den was the one involved in a fatal attack that killed Staff Sgt. Plant, the department may kill the bear due to now being a public safety threat.
In the meantime, Army Criminal Investigation Division personnel are working with the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and other agencies to investigate the attack.
Overall, Staff Sgt. Plant will be dearly missed by his many loved ones and his Battalion of US Army soldiers.
“Staff Sgt. Plant was an integral part of our organization,” said Lt. Col. David J. Nelson, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the press release. “He was a positive and dedicated leader who brought joy and energy to the paratroopers who served with him.”
Staff Sgt. Plant was 30 years old and the recipient of several awards and decorations which include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
“He always had a smile on his face, he always went above and beyond what was asked of him, and he served as an inspiration to all who had the privilege to know him,” Nelson said. “His loss is deeply felt within our organization, and we offer our sincere condolences to friends and family.”