Teens Attacked by Grizzly Bear -- Where Were the Adults?


grizzly bearA mother grizzly bear with her cub attacked and injured seven teenagers on a month-long survival-skills course in Alaska on Saturday. The group was rescued Sunday morning (nine hours after the attack) and, thankfully, all seven of the teens are recovering -- even the two who suffered life-threatening wounds. But the attack raises serious questions about the backpacking trip, namely:

Where in the world were all the adults?

The group of teens -- which included two 16-year-old students, two 17-year-olds, and one 18-year-old -- was participating in a 30-day back-country course conducted by the National Outdoor Leadership School. As for why the teens were backpacking without adult instructors, Bruce Palmer, a spokesperson from the school, explained that they were on Day 24 of the course, and when they're that far along, they're allowed to travel as a student group without adults so they can learn to utilize the survival skills they learned.

Our basic goal is that when a student graduates from the NOLS course, they have the experience and background to be able to take other people out into the back-country ... We’re training people to be outdoor leaders, basically.

In this case, it's difficult to ascertain whether adult presence would have prevented the attack. (After all, this is the second bear attack this month, and the first took the life of a 57-year-old man.) The school teaches its students to fend off bears by calling out to alert them of human presence and giving nearby animals a chance to flee -- and, according to Palmer, the students did this. Moreover, they carried three canisters of bear spray as protection; however, it's unclear as to whether they used it. And you could say the school was successful in teaching the teens survival skills given that they are still with us today.

Still, perhaps the gravity of this attack on the teens (or the inevitable lawsuit?) will convince the school to change its policies: Because no matter how mature teens may be, sending them out into the back-country wilderness with little protection sounds highly unsafe and is just asking for trouble.


Image via ilashdesigns/Flickr

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bills... billsfan1104

Why should they be sued?? Why should audlts be there?? They took a survival course and they passed it!!! Congrats to the school for teaching them well. I bet anything it will come out that the kids were probably teasing the bears or got way too close the the bear cubs.

Laneydo Laneydo

It's teens in alaska who are leading tours and being the person responsible for others' safety.

nonmember avatar Guest

I don't know why you (billsfan1140) would assume the teens were teasing the bear or got too close. If they are taking a survival course I would assume they are not stupid enough to do either of these things. Bear are wild animals and attack humans when they feel that it is necessary. The bear and cubs may have just wandered up to the teens and then the teens did what they were told to do by yelling out and the bear decided its cubs may be in danger so it attacked. It does not mean that the teens were doing anything stupid.

bills... billsfan1104

Hey Guest, guess what, if they were not teasing the bear, then I will take it back my accusation. But usually they are gentle animals and dont bother people unless humans get to close to the cubs. Maybe the teens didnt know they got close to the cubs, so it happened. I feel bad for them, but it is obvious they did something right.

meatb... meatball77

They're practically adults who have more training than most because of the camp.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

Is our author under the impression that bears don't attack adults?  I guess I don't understand why you bother wondering where the grown-up were....a mother bear with her cub won't care if you're 5 or 50 - you're a threat.

MrsNe... MrsNewman

They all survived, which goes to show they knew what they were doing and how to handle a situation like that. It shows how well they were trained. They didn't need an adult, they did just fine. Who's to say they wouldn't all be dead right now had an "adult" been there. They aren't young children, they were older teenagers who knew what they were doing.

copgi... copgirl112

I think this is a sad story and I hope they all recover but bears dont care what age you are the parents are not going to protect the teens they need to learn to fend for themselves and there was one 18 year old so maybe they could have stopped it sarcasm

3rdCo... 3rdCoastTXtoast

What difference would it have made if adults were there? Adult supervision wouldn't have made the teenagers any less tasty looking to a bear.

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