Days after a U.S. Army soldier died of a devastating bear attack at a training area in Anchorage, Alaska, the Army has identified the victim in a statement.
Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant, 30, was pronounced dead at a hospital on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage following the mauling on Tuesday, reports ABC News via The Associated Press.
The Army stated that another soldier suffered minor injuries in the attack, which occurred in a remote section of the military base west of the Anchorage landfill.
The mauling is currently under investigation, but Cyndi Wardlow, a regional supervisor with The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said in a statement that presently, evidence suggests that the incident was a “defensive attack by a female bear protecting her cubs.”
A den with two brown bear cubs was found nearby, according to the department. Following the attack, a brown bear approached the area and officials who responded to the attack used bear spray, after which the bear left the scene.
Hair collected during an initial investigation into the attack was consistent with a brown bear, the department added.
Plant hailed from Saint Augustine, Florida, and had been at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson since July 2021, the Army said in a statement. He was an infantryman from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Lt. Col. David J. Nelson, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment commander, said Plant “always had a smile on his face, he always went above and beyond what was asked of him, and he served as an inspiration to all who had the privilege to know him.”
“We are trying to learn everything we can about what happened to increase public safety around wildlife in Alaska,” Wardlow said in her statement. The department stated that bears that are considered public safety threats or that are involved in deadly attacks can be euthanized.
Game cameras placed during the investigation indicated that an adult bear had returned to the area and left the site of the den with her cubs. At the time of the statement, the location of the bear that was involved in the Tuesday attack was unknown.