JBER identifies Army Alaska soldier killed in bear attack
Search underway for brown bear sow
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The U.S. Army Alaska soldier that was killed by a bear Tuesday has been identified as Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant, according to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson officials.
Plant, 30, from Saint Augustine, Florida, was an infantryman from the Third Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment that served in Alaska, according to a release from JBER spokesperson Erin Eaton.
Plant was attacked Tuesday evening during a training exercise west of the Anchorage Regional Landfill, in an area known to Alaska Army as Area 412. The release said another soldier received minor injuries in the attack but has been treated and released from the JBER hospital, where Plant was declared dead.
According to a release from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the the bear is a female brown bear, and the department reported that the sow and cubs had a nearby den in a remote portion of the base.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to Staff Sgt. Plant’s family, friends, and fellow military members during this very sad time,” said Department of Fish and Game Southcentral Regional Supervisor Cyndi Wardlow. “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. We are trying to learn everything we can about what happened to increase public safety around wildlife in Alaska.”
According to the release, the area of JBER where the attack occurred has been closed to the public for recreation. The department is encouraging anyone that sees a brown bear in Anchorage or unusual, aggressive wildlife behavior to report it to the department.
“Following the initial attack and U.S. Army personnel extraction, a brown bear approached the area. Bear spray was deployed by responding personnel and the bear left the immediate area,” the release said. “... A bear that is considered a public safety threat or involved in a fatal attack may be killed by the Department. Game cameras placed by ADF&G during their investigation indicated that ... an adult bear had returned to the area after nightfall and left the den site accompanied by the cubs”
The 673rd Security Forces Squadron initially responded to the incident, and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers are still searching for the bear involved in the attack.
The release said Plant has served as an active-duty soldier in the Army since January 2015, following a stint in the Army Reserves. He spent time serving in Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, before making his way to Alaska in July 2021.
“Staff Sgt. Plant was an integral part of our organization,” Lt. Col. David J. Nelson, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment commander, said in the release. “He was a positive and dedicated leader who brought joy and energy to the paratroopers who served with him. He 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. His loss is deeply felt within our organization and we offer our sincere condolences to friends and family.”
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