A woman was mauled by a bear while jogging along a popular nature trail in Alaska, The Daily Mail is reporting.
Twenty-year-old Gabrielle Markel was jogging along the Cottonwood Creek Trail near Upper Skilak Lake. She was accompanied by her friend, 26-year-old Kaitlin Haley. They were about three quarters of a mile from Alaska Wildland Adventures Lodge, the backcountry lodge where both women worked.
As the women rounded a corner, a grizzly bear appeared from behind some foliage and attacked Gabrielle, according to the women’s boss, Tom Timmel.
“They surprised a bear as they were coming around a turn, basically.”
Although Gabrielle was carrying pepper spray, it didn’t stop the bear from mauling her.
“Gabrielle did have bear spray with her and, I think, even attempted to use it. But as it happens in these types of situations, sometimes, it was very quick and the bear was surprised.”
Haley ran from the lodge to get help, according to NBC News, and several employees returned to the scene armed with bear spray. They found their friend walking towards them, the bear having long gone. Police spokesperson Megan Peters said that the woman had scratches and bites on her head, arm, and back.
“She didn’t appear to have life-threatening injuries at the time but they can turn life threatening. It’s always important to get them to the hospital as soon as possible.”
Because of the remote location of the bear attack, it took a 20-minute boat ride across a lake, followed by a 70-mile helicopter flight, to get Gabrielle to a hospital.
Jeff Selinger, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, tells NBC News that it could be any number of factors that provoked the bear to maul the woman.
“Most of the attacks are surprise encounters, on both ends. Or the sow (female bear) has cubs. We don’t know if someone else was up on the trail beforehand and provoked it. Sometimes they aren’t clear. “
Although bear attacks are rare, they are becoming more common as humans encroach on bear habitats; last winter, according to one Inquisitr report, a New Jersey man was killed by a bear, the only known fatal bear attack in The Garden State in several hundred years of record-keeping.
As of this post, the Alaska woman who was mauled by a bear has declined interview requests from the media.
[Image courtesy of: Shutterstock/Dennis W. Donohue]