ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Army on Thursday identified the soldier who died this week as a result of a bear attack at an Alaskan military training area.
The Army said in a statement, Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant, 30, was pronounced dead after Tuesday’s massacre at a hospital on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. Another soldier was slightly injured in the attack on a military training area west of the Anchorage landfill, according to the army.
The plant originated in Saint Augustine, Fla., and has been at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson since July 2021, the Army said in a statement. He was an infantryman with the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Lt. Col. David J. Nelson, 3rd Battalion, commander of the 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 everyone as a Inspiration had the privilege of knowing him.”
The army says the mutilation is being investigated.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said a den containing two brown bear cubs was found nearby. The department said in a statement that after the attack, a brown bear approached the area and officers responding to the attack used bear spray, an irritant that can deter bears. The bear was gone, the statement said.
Hair collected during an initial investigation into the attack matched a brown bear, the department said.
The bear attacked in a remote area of the military base, the department said. Cyndi Wardlow, a regional director for the department, said the information gathered so far suggests this was a “defensive attack by a bear protecting her cubs”.
“We are trying to learn as much as we can about what has happened to increase public safety around wildlife in Alaska,” she said in the statement.
The department said it can kill bears considered a threat to public safety or involved in deadly attacks. It said wildlife cameras set up by the department during its investigation indicated an adult bear had returned to the area and exited the den with the cubs.
The whereabouts of the bear involved in Tuesday’s attack is unknown, the department said.