According to CNN, the bear had chased residents after entering the western Alaska town of Wales before attacking the woman and toddler. The bear was shot and killed by another resident as it attacked the two victims, according to the report.
Reports of polar bear attacks on humans are extremely rare, a 2017 study published by The Wildlife Society found.
“From 1870-2014, we documented 73 attacks by wild polar bears, distributed among the 5 polar bear Range States (Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia, and United States), which resulted in 20 human fatalities and 63 human injuries,” it found.
But attacks on humans remain rare. The last one was in 2013, according to the Reuters news agency, and there hadn’t been a fatal attack since the early 1980s, CNN reported in 2021.
In recent decades, bear season has been lasting longer because of climate change, residents say. The ice is melting sooner and freezing later, keeping the bears on land longer.