A man in Alaska has been rescued after enduring repeated attacks and harassment from a grizzly bear over the span of several days.
The unidentified man, who is believed to be in his late 50s or early 60s, suffered a bruised torso and leg injury after his fight with the animal, according to The New York Times.
He had been working alone on a small mining claim where there was no cell reception and was staying in a shack since July 12. His friends reported him overdue after he hadn't returned home, according to a press release, but he was only rescued on July 16, when a helicopter on another mission was diverted off-course by weather and spotted an SOS message on the shack roof.
"We don’t really come across people in the middle of nowhere," Lieutenant Commander Jared Carbajal told the newspaper. "He was kind of struggling. When we came around, he was on his hands and knees waving a white flag."
The helicopter crew said they discovered the man injured, sleep-deprived, and running low on ammunition. They also noted that the door of the shack where he was staying had been ripped off.
"At some point, a bear had dragged him down to the river," Carbajal explained. "He had a pistol. He said that the bear kept coming back every night and he hadn't slept in a few days."
Petty Officer First Class Ali Blackburn, a spokesperson for the Coast Guard, said she did not believe the man, who only had two more rounds left in his pistol to defend himself against the bear, would have survived for much longer.
"I’d imagine you’d be a little loopy after not sleeping for so long," she added.
The U.S. Coast Guard flew the man to hospital in order to get medical attention but said his injuries were not life-threatening.
Although the state has been described as "bear county," the Alaska Department for Fish and Game emphasized that aggressive encounters with the species are rare.
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