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A bear mauled two guides on an UnCruise Adventures shore excursion near Sitka last week, the Juneau Empire reports. The incident took place on a U.S. Forest Service trail on Chichagof Island about 35 miles northeast of Sitka, and was part of an eight-day itinerary on the Wilderness Explorer. The two guides were injured, but none of the 22 guests on the excursion were hurt.
UnCruise Adventures CEO Dan Blanchard told the Juneau Empire that a group of four or five guests and the lead guide had rounded a semi-blind corner when they came upon a bear, who immediately charged the lead guide. The rear guide got to the front of the group in 15 to 20 seconds and discharged his bear spray as the bear grabbed his leg.
"At 4:00 pm Thursday, August 18, we evacuated two crew members by helicopter from Sitkoh Bay off Chichagof Island to Sitka hospitals," UnCruise Adventures said in a statement provided to Travel Agent. One guide has been treated and released, and the other guide is being treated at a hospital in Seattle. Both have non-life threatening injuries. Both crew members are expedition guides with UnCruise Adventures."
"They were on a hike Thursday with a group of guests and encountered a brown bear sow and cub about 2.5 miles up the trail," the line said. "All guests are unharmed. Both guides were carrying bear spray and emergency kits. The lead guide did not have time to use the bear spray; the second guide deployed spray and the bears moved on. The USCG helicopter found a place close by to pick them up – about 200 yards away from the group. Our own medical team hiked in to the scene to help with the evacuation. The team safely escorted the hiking group back to the ship."
"The crew goes through wilderness training and bear safety training including how to avoid bear encounters," the line said. "Expedition guides carry bear spray on all excursions off the ship."
UnCruise’s safety committee met Tuesday to review the incident, the Juneau Empire said. It will review the findings and develop a report on the incident as well as any lessons that could be learned from it.
Read the Juneau Empire story here.