On Monday, June 19th, 2017, Anchorage woman Erin Johnson, 27, was attacked and killed by a black bear while doing contract work for the Pogo Mine in Interior Alaska. A second employee was injured in the attack, Ellen Trainor, 38, of Fairbanks.
Both women were biologists working for Alaska Biological Research, Inc. They were collecting soil samples at the time of the bear attack.
Erin had just gotten married 2 weeks before her death.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers killed the bear.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman, Ken Marsh, reports that the animal in question was a male black bear. The bear was shot at the scene and its carcass was removed.
It appears that the bear consciously attacked these women and was not acting defensively.
“Initial indications, the information we have, are consistent with a predatory attack.
The bear appears to have stalked them. It came up from behind them and attacked.” – Ken Marsh, Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman
Erin’s death was the second bear mauling death in Alaska in two days after a 16-year-old boy was killed by competing in a running race in Anchorage the day before, Sunday, June 18th, 2017.
Statement from Erin’s family:
Erin was a beautiful, compassionate, and passionate person — who lived her brief 27 years to the fullest. Being outside, exploring wild and remote places with her best friend and husband Abe, her parents Barb and Steve, and her extended family of friends and loved ones was one of her favorite joys.
A lifelong Alaskan, Erin grew up in the mountains, especially those behind her parents’ home in Chugiak. A talented and tenacious athlete, she represented the United States as a member of the Junior Olympic Nordic Ski Team in 2006 and 2007.
She explored more corners of the state through personal and work trips than most people could ever dream up in a lifetime. A geologist and botanist by training, she studied at the University of Montana and University of Alaska Anchorage and had a deep scientific appreciation for the nature she loved to explore. She skied, packrafted, mountain biked and backpacked her way around Alaska and the world.
Erin’s wonderful energy, quirky sense of humor, dedication, sparkle, generosity and talent touched everyone she knew, and left them all the better. Her passions extended to gardening, playing her violin, making art in many forms, a love of board games, foraging and preserving the bounty she harvested.
Erin’s family and friends request that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be sent to the Erin Johnson Memorial Fund, established to support two of Erin’s most cherished values — connecting youth with the outdoors and conserving Alaska’s wild places.
— Erin Johnson’s family