Alaska boy takes swipe from growling bear, and escapes

A 12-year-old Alaska boy walking to his school bus stop was knocked down by a brown bear sow before dawn Tuesday morning but escaped with superficial injuries.

"There were some minor puncture wounds from a claw," said Steve Atwater, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District superintendent, who declined to name the boy or specify the location of the encounter.

The student was taken to the Providence Seward Hospital, where he was treated and released into the care of his parents.

Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said the sow, accompanied by two cubs, huffed and growled at the boy before approaching.

"The boy was wearing a backpack, which received most of the bear's attention," Peters said.

"That backpack," noted trooper Sgt. Marc Cloward, who responded, "probably saved him from some puncture wounds."

Cloward attempted to track the bear for about an hour before abandoning the effort. By the size of the paw prints, he estimated the animal weighed 300-400 pounds. Cloward said he planned to return to the area Tuesday night.

"If the bear shows back up in the neighborhood any time soon it will most likely be dispatched," said Peters. Both the state troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game agree it should be killed if it reappears, she said, because the bear went "too far" pursuing the boy.

"It's unfortunate, but it's a public safety issue," Cloward said. "She's programmed to do what she's going to do."

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