The victims of a polar bear attack on Tuesday in the remote Alaskan village of Wales include a 24-year-old woman and her 1-year-old son.
According to a press release by the Alaska Department of Public Safety on Wednesday, the victims of the attack were Summer Myomick and her son Clyde Ongtowasruk. The Anchorage Daily News reported that the mother and son were walking between the Kingikmiut School building and a clinic when the bear entered the community and mauled the pair near the front entrance of the Kingikmiut School building at approximately 2:30 p.m.
As the attack unfolded, according to the Associated Press, community members and employees from the school emerged to try to scare the animal away with shovels. The polar bear chased them back into the school, prompting the school's principal to slam the door to keep it out.
"The bear tried to enter with them," Susan R. Nedza, the chief school administrator for the Bering Strait School District, told the Anchorage Daily News.
Wales, a remote town of approximately 150 people, is located on the Seward Peninsula and is the westernmost point of the U.S. mainland, abutting the Bering Strait.
While experts believe that receding ice in the area may be to blame for the bear's interaction with the town, a GoFundMe account for the family's next-of-kin states that this was the first fatal polar bear attack in Alaska in over 30 years.
According to the fundraiser, Myomick, Clyde, and their immediate family were living in the Wales school after facing recent electrical issues in their home. The funds will aid their family in repairing their home and moving back into their residence.
In an update on Thursday, the Alaska Department of Public Safety indicated that an Alaska State Trooper and a representative from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game traveled to Wales to investigate the attack after poor weather conditions prevented them from making the trip the day prior.
As of Thursday, the remains of Clyde and Myomick were transported to the State Medical Examiner's Office for autopsy.
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A 2017 study on polar bear attacks found they were more likely to happen during the months of July through December when ice covers the least amount of area. In addition, polar bears are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act due to the "current and predicted future declines" of sea ice, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.