A professor was mauled by a bear while teaching a mountaineering course Monday in the Alaskan wilderness, Alaska Dispatch News reports. According to the Washington Post, police say 35-year-old Forest Wagner "suffered extensive injuries to his leg" in the attack. Wagner, who's taught at the University of Alaska Southeast for a decade, was with approximately a dozen students and two teacher's assistants. The AP reports the group was confronted by a female bear with two cubs. Following the attack, one of Wagner's students hiked down Mount Emmerich until they had cell reception and could call for help. A helicopter arrived to take Wagner off the mountain. He remains hospitalized in critical condition.
The bear reappeared as Wagner was being airlifted off the mountain, and a state trooper stayed behind to protect the group. With the bear remaining in the area, a second helicopter was called to remove the students, none of whom were injured. "Forest, the teaching assistants, and the students were great in the situation,” a fellow professor tells the Post. “They applied their medical and wilderness training, worked together, and responded effectively. I am very proud of them.” The safety of Alaskan mountaineering courses was already being questioned due to an incident last month in which students from the University of Alaska Fairbanks were caught in an avalanche.