Inclement weather and lack of runway lights has delayed troopers and Alaska Department of Fish and Game officers from responding to Wales to investigate a fatal polar bear attack that took the lives of two on Tuesday.
The village was rocked by the attack on Tuesday afternoon when a polar bear entered the small, Inupiaq community of approximately 150 people 100 miles to the northwest of Nome and began to attack community members.
The bear began chasing people through the village then catching 24-year-old Summer Myomick of Saint Michael and her one-year-old son Clyde Ongtowasruk walking between the community’s school and clinic. It was there that the polar bear fatally mauled them.
The attack only came to an end when a local resident shot and killed the marauding bear.
It is not known at this time if starvation or illness prompted the bear to enter the village and begin to attack residents. Fish and Game will conduct a thorough investigation once they are able to reach the remote community on the western tip of the Seward Peninsula. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been notified of the incident.
It is rare that a polar bear would be near the village at this time of year as it is the season when they are far out on the ice hunting for seals. But, it has been noted that the extent of sea ice in the area is showing a definite downward linear trend according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
The last time a fatal polar bear attack occurred in Alaska was in 1990 when a starving bear attacked a man north of Wales in the village of Point Lay.