Black bear attacks Alyeska Pipeline worker, continues to return to scene and charge others

Black bear, Photo Date: 9/22/2016 (PIXNIO)
Black bear, Photo Date: 9/22/2016 (PIXNIO)(KMVT)
Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 6:21 PM AKDT
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A worker at Alyeska Pipeline was attacked by a male black bear Friday, Alaska State Troopers report.

Alyeska Pipeline worker, Michael Becwar, went on a run in an area workers frequently use for recreation when he was attacked by the black bear near Prospect Creek at pump station 5. Security found Becwar with serious injuries and administered first aid, a spokesperson for the Pipeline said.

Pump station 5 is in a remote area, about 150 miles from Fairbanks, so Becwar was flown to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital where troopers say he is recovering from his injuries.

“A lot of times with bear maulings it’s a situation where a bear is surprised or you get between a bear and cubs,” Alyeska Pipeline Spokesperson Katie Pesznecker said. “This was a black bear, and the employee who was injured saw the bear and the bear made eye contact with him and attacked him. And it happened very quickly.”

While employees frequently work around wildlife, Pesznecker said this was an extremely unusual event. Throughout the weekend the bear continued to return to the area of the attack.

Workers shot at the bear once on Saturday but the bear ran away. A pipeline helicopter spotted the bear return to the area on Sunday morning and notified security. The bear charged at a security worker, who shot at the bear three times Pesznecker said, finally taking it down.

“No one can think of anything like this happening in recent memory,” Pesznecker said.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game performed a necropsy on the bear, according to the troopers, and believe it was the same bear that attacked Becwar.

Pesznecker said Alyeska Pipeline has protocols in place for ensuring worker safety. When workers leave, they inform pipeline security about the expected duration of time in their activity. Each pump station also has a medic on hand, which Pesznecker said was crucial in saving Becwar’s life.

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