Originally created 04/28/04

Boy fights off brown bear attack



ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A 15-year-old boy on a wilderness expedition for emotionally troubled youths woke up to find a 400-pound brown bear with a bad attitude sitting at his feet.

After trying unsuccessfully to back out of the tent, the boy was bitten in the forearm and decided to fight back, punching the bear with his left hand a half-dozen times, Alaska State Trooper Adam Benson said Monday.

When the teenager tried to run, the bear bit him again below his ribs, this time leaving a half-dozen puncture wounds on his back, Benson said.

The boy punched the bear again, and again she let him go, but chased him around a nearby stand of trees. He eventually remembered an air horn in his gear, and blew it in the bear's muzzle, waking others in the camp, said Steve Prysunka, director of the six-week "Crossing Wilderness Expeditions for Youth" program.

Prysunka asked that the boy not be identified.

The bear finally turned and ran after counselors blasted her with pepper spray and fired a flare at her feet, Prysunka said. Later Saturday, following the morning attack, officials found the sow in the campsite area on Deer Island in southeast Alaska and killed her.

The boy was flown out to a hospital, where he was treated, then sent home to Barrow to give his wounds time to heal, Prysunka said.

"I think he is the biggest, baddest thing in the woods. He punched the bear," Prysunka said.



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 ANCHORAGE   ADAM BENSON   STEVE PRYSUNKA   ALASKA   DIRECTOR