On Campus

UBC student dragged by grizzly

Attack happened near Anchorage, Alaska

When Julia Stafford returns to class at the University of British Columbia this September, she’ll have a real-life tale to tell about surviving a bear attack in Alaska’s wilderness.

The 20-year-old native of Seattle, Wash., said she spent Tuesday recovering in hospital with minor injuries after being pulled six metres during a grizzly bear attack.

“It was pretty scary at the time, but it doesn’t really bother me much now,” Stafford told The Canadian Press in an interview.

The attack took place while Stafford and a colleague were collecting rock samples in a ravine near Alaska’s Tangle Lakes, northeast of Anchorage.

Without warning, a mother bear and her two cubs emerged from the fog.

“We just kind of got surprised by the bear, and the bear was surprised by us,” said Stafford.

Stafford said she and her colleague began to back away, walking up a hill, but the bear followed, first walking and then running after the workers.

Before Stafford could reach for her bear spray, which was clipped to her backpack, the animal was on top of her, she said.

“It grabbed me by the hand and pulled me 20 feet and then left me, and that was pretty much it,” said Stafford.

At one point, Stafford said she curled into the fetal position so the bear would think she was dead.

The attack took less than a minute, said Stafford, after which the bear left the area.

Stafford said her coworker wrapped her in a fleece jacket, before the pair walked out of the area and called for a helicopter, which picked them up.

Recovering in hospital from scratches and a broken bone in her hand, Stafford said she’s receiving antibiotics and may undergo surgery.

She said she expects to be released from hospital Wednesday.

“It’s not bad at all,” said Stafford, reflecting on her injuries.

“I got off really easy.”

—Vivian Luk and Keven Drews, The Canadian Press

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