A bear that mauled a couple of cruise ship wilderness guides during an Alaska hiking excursion attacked so fast that there was little time to defend against the animal, said the CEO of the cruise ship company.
The attack occurred after the two guides and a group of hikers from Wilderness Explorer rounded a "semi-blind corner" and found themselves between the bear and her cub, UnCruise Adventures CEO Dan Blanchard told Juneau Empire in an interview.
The guides are crew members of the 74-passenger vessel and receive training on bear safety and other topics each spring, he said.
The Coast Guard rescued the injured guides, who were identified by Alaska state troopers as 41-year-old Anna Powers of Hawaii and 26-year-old Michael Justa of Juneau.
The August 18 hike in Tongass National Forest has been part of the Wilderness Explorer's regular eight-day itinerary since the early 2000s.
The lead guide was in front of the 22 passengers who were hiking and the other guide was at the rear when the bear attacked.
The group was walking single file and had spread out as much as 200 feet along a trail. When the group came upon the bear and cub, the lead guide put out her arms and told the party to back up, Blanchard said.
The hikers had started to do so when the adult animal attacked the guide, who didn't have a chance to use her bear spray, he said.
The guide at the back of the group ran to the front, getting out his bear spray. The bear charged the guide, who started spraying the animal from about 20 feet away.
The male guide's injuries were relatively minor. The USCG has said the victims each sustained severe lacerations and multiple injuries.
Authorities have said they have no plans to hunt down the bear. Tongass officials say bears are common in the area near a stream filled with salmon at this time of the year.