Polar bear kills woman and boy in rampage through remote Alaskan village

A polar bear fatally attacked a woman and a boy in the Alaskan town of Wales on Jan. 17, 2023. File/Getty Images

A woman and a boy are dead after they were attacked by a polar bear in a remote Alaskan village on Tuesday.

State troopers said the bear was shot and killed by another community member as it attacked the two victims.

The animal entered the western village of Wales, on the tip of the Seward Peninsula, around 2:30 p.m. and “chased multiple residents,” the Alaska Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

Read more: Man rescued after days-long battle with grizzly bear at Alaska shack

The identities of the woman and juvenile male have not been released publicly, as authorities said they are still notifying next of kin.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will be conducting an investigation. Officials will travel to Wales — which has a small population of just over 170 — once weather conditions allow.

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Polar bears are considered a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They are about the size of a large brown bear and typically weigh 600 to 1,200 pounds.

Only 20 people have been killed in polar bear attacks between 1870 and 2014, according to the Canadian organization Polar Bears International.

The frequency of reported attacks on humans appears to be on the rise, likely to do with the threat of climate change, which is melting sea ice in the Arctic. Polar bears need sea ice in order to forage for food and reproduce.

Read more: Bear bites woman’s bare bottom from outhouse toilet in Alaska

In 1990, a man in the Alaskan village Point Lay was killed by a polar bear that showed signs of starvation, as per the Anchorage Daily News.

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The outlet reported that some Alaskan villages have Polar Bear Patrol Programs to keep residents safe from potential animal attacks, though Wales did not have one in place due to a lack of government funding.

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