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U.S. Army identifies soldier killed by bear in Alaska

U.S. Army identifies soldier killed by bear in Alaska
Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant was killed Tuesday by a bear in Alaska. A second soldier was injured in the attack. Photo courtesy of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson/Release

May 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army on Thursday identified the soldier mauled to death by a bear in Alaska earlier in the week as a 30-year-old Afghanistan veteran.

U.S. Army Alaska identified the soldier as Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant, who served with the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

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"Staff Sgt. Plant was an integral part of our organization," Lt. Col. David Nelson, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, said in a statement. "He was a dedicated leader who brought joy and energy to the paratroopers who served him."

The Florida native, who was stationed at Alaska's Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson since July of last year, was killed Tuesday when he was attacked by a bear during training involving a small group of soldiers in a remote area located west of the Anchorage Regional Landfill.

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He was declared dead after being transported to the JBER hospital, the Army said, adding a second soldier injured in the attack has since been treated and released.

State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game said that following the attack and the extraction of the soldiers a brown bear was seen re-approaching the area and responding officials deployed pepper spray, forcing the animal to leave the area.

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A den with two brown bear cubs inside was later found nearby, the officials said.

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The area, which has been described as a remote portion of JBER with limited access, has been closed to the public.

Since the attack, officials have been looking to locate the bear, the game officials said, adding that hair collected during an investigation into the mauling is consistent with a brown bear and will be DNA analyzed as well as samples from the attack to determine if they match any materials from future incidents.

"From everything we know so far, based on the scene investigation and information from other responding agencies, this appears to be a defensive attack by a female bear protecting her cubs," Syndi Wardlow, the Department of Fish and Gam's southcentral regional supervisor, said in a statement. "We are trying to learn everything we can about what happened to increase public safety around wildlife in Alaska."

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