US Army identifies soldier who died after bear attack in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. military on Thursday identified the soldier who died this week from injuries sustained in a bear attack at a military training area in Alaska.

The Army in a statement said Master Sgt. Seth Michael Plant, 30, was pronounced dead at a Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hospital in Anchorage after Tuesday’s dismemberment. Another soldier was lightly injured in the attack at a training area west of the Anchorage landfill, the military said.

The plant was originally from St. Augustine, Fla., and had been at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson since July 2021, the military said in a statement. He was an infantryman with the 3rd Battalion of the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Lt. Col. David J. Nelson, commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 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 of knowing him.

The military says the mutilation is being investigated.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said a den with two brown bear cubs was found nearby. The department, in a statement, said that after the attack, a brown bear approached the area and officials responding to the attack used bear spray, an irritant that can deter the Bears. The bear is gone, according to the statement.

Hair collected during an initial investigation into the attack matched a brown bear, the department said.

The bear attacked in a remote section of the military base, the department said. Cyndi Wardlow, the department’s regional supervisor, said information gathered so far suggests it was a “defensive attack by a female bear protecting her cubs”.

“We are trying to learn everything we can about what has happened to increase public safety around wildlife in Alaska,” she said in the statement.

The ministry said it can kill bears considered threats to public safety or involved in deadly attacks. He said game cameras placed by the department during its investigation indicated that an adult bear had returned to the area and left the den site with the cubs.

The location of the bear involved in Tuesday’s attack was unknown, the department said.

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