Pictured: ‘Inspirational’ US Army paratrooper, 30, mauled to death in ‘defensive attack by a female brown bear protecting her cubs’ in Alaska
- Staff Sergeant Seth Michael Plant was mauled as he saw a ‘flash of brown mass’
- Plant and two other soldiers came across brown bear den protected by mother
- She began to crawl outside after their arrival, apparently defending her cubs
- The sow then pounced at Plant, mauling him to death, before injuring another
- Wildlife Troopers Captain: ‘They were attacked and didn’t even see it coming’
- CO: ‘[Plant] always had a smile on his face, he always went above and beyond’
- The bear has not been found and the area has been shut down to tourists
The US Army soldier mauled to death by a brown bear during a training exercise in Alaska was remembered as ‘an inspiration to all who had the privilege to know him’.
Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant, 30, was killed by a brown mother bear protecting her cubs outside Air Force base Elmendorf-Richardson, Anchorage.
Commander Lt. Col. David J. Nelson said: ‘[Plant] 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.’
Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant (left and right) was attacked by a bear while training in Alaska
Plant is pictured in his Army uniform holding a rifle in the Alaska wilderness close to the base
Plant was from Saint Augustine, Florida and had been at Elmendorf-Richardson since July 2021, the Army said.
He was an infantryman from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Plant and two other soldiers were out training when they came upon the bear den.
The mother bear crawled outside in defence of her cubs before pouncing.
A large brown bear crosses the Sargent River, Lark Clark National Park in southwestern Alaska
All Plant and his fellow troopers saw was a ‘flash of brown mass’, an Army captain said.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers commander Capt. Derek DeGraaf told the New York Times: ‘From the soldier’s perspective, there was a flash of brown mass.
‘They were attacked and didn’t even see it coming.’
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is a US Air Force facility outside Anchorage (handout image)
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said a den with two brown bear cubs was found nearby.
They said a brown bear later approached the area and officials who responded to the attack used bear spray, an irritant that can deter bears.
The bear left and hasn’t been spotted since, the department said.
Hair collected during an initial investigation into the attack was consistent with a brown bear, they added.
The bear attack took place in a remote section of the military base, the department said.
The attack took place as a small group of soldiers trained near Anchorage Regional Landfill
Brown grizzly bears and black bears are two of the most common species inhabiting Alaska, though the grizzly is considered more dangerous and willing to attack humans (stock photo)
Cyndi Wardlow, a regional supervisor with the department, said information gathered so far suggests this was a ‘defensive attack by a female bear protecting her cubs’.
‘We are trying to learn everything we can about what happened to increase public safety around wildlife in Alaska,’ she told AP.
The department said it will kill bears that are considered public safety threats or are involved in deadly attacks.
It added that game cameras placed during its investigation indicated that an adult bear had returned to the area and left the den site with the cubs.
The area has since been closed to the public for all recreation activity to prevent further attacks.