A man was mauled by a brown bear Saturday after he and two companions skiing in the backcountry near Haines inadvertently came across a bear den.
A brown bear emerged from the den and attacked one of the skiers, who suffered a smashed arm, puncture wounds and a severed ear, according to one of the other skiers, Graham Kraft, who is organizing a fundraiser to help with medical costs.
The den was located about 1,600-foot elevation, just above Chilkoot Lake about 10 miles northwest of Haines, according to a Coast Guard news release.
The other two people were uninjured and called for assistance. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was launched from Air Station Sitka and transported the injured man to Juneau for medical care.
The other two skiers did not need assistance and continued down the mountain on their own, the Coast Guard stated.
"The other two members in the patient's skiing party had the proper equipment and knowledge to assist with his injuries and communicate for help in 15 degree temperatures with sunset approaching," said Lt. Cmdr. Will Sirokman, co-pilot for the case. "Their satellite communication device provided the precise GPS coordinates and elevation of their location. Equally important, they had brightly colored fabric to signal the helicopter as we approached. This was absolutely crucial to us finding them in a timely manner."