Alaska Amateur Mauled by Bear: Friends Use Ham Radio to Summon Help
Wes Perkins, KL0FM, of Nome, Alaska, was seriously mauled by a grizzly bear during a hunting trip on Sunday, May 14. According to the Alaska State Troopers, Perkins and two friends had been tracking the bear east of Nome -- located on the Seward Peninsula -- when the big grizzly charged the group. Perkins’ companions shot and killed the animal during the attack. Perkins was badly hurt, including severe injuries to his face. The hunters called for help using a handheld transceiver.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, Bering Air helicopter pilot Ben Rowe landed a Robinson R44 at a snowy creek about two-thirds of the way between Nome and Council; Council is about 57 miles east-northeast of Nome. “Wes has had a [hunting] camp down in Council for probably 30 years,” said Matt Johnson, Nome’s volunteer fire chief. Perkins is a 32 year veteran of the Nome Volunteer Fire Department, serving as Chief from 2000-2007.
Perkins is also is the president of Seward Peninsula Amateur Radio Club (SPARC), which operates the repeater system that his partners used to report the bear attack, said Colby Carter, KL0CR, a longtime friend of Perkins. “For anybody that needed help, [Perkins] would do his utmost to help you any way that he could.”
Rescuers shuttled Perkins to a hospital in Nome, but them was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Perkins -- a lifelong Nome resident -- underwent emergency surgery Monday morning, May 16. Doctors told the family that the care Perkins received as medics rushed him from flight to flight saved his life,” son Casey Perkins, KL2KW, told the Anchorage Daily News. “He’s fighting hard and they’re trying hard to help him.”
According to the Alaska State Troopers, the bear lay in the deep snow beside a creek. Perkins, riding ahead of his partners, passed the animal. He drove another 70 feet and turned around. The grizzly charged and Perkins -- still on his snowmachine and handling gear -- wasn’t able to get out of the way. "My understanding is that it was a very large bear. One of the biggest that people have seen around here,” Johnson told the Anchorage Daily News. The other hunters shot the animal, which wandered away and died. The hunters skinned and salvaged it, said Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters. “We have no indication that it was anything other than a tragic hunting accident,” she said. -- Thanks to the Anchorage Daily News and ARRL Alaska Section Manager Jim Larsen, AL7FS, for the information