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Man dragged by black bear during camping trip near Fairbanks

Posted: August 21, 2011 - 7:37pm

FAIRBANKS — An 18-year-old camper had a rough encounter with a black bear near Fairbanks.

Thomas Gilligan was awaken Saturday by the bear, which partially dragged him out of his tent in the Angel Rocks area.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner said Gilligan sustained scratches on his back, but no serious injuries.

“I was sleeping, and I heard it, but I thought it was my friends messing around,” Gilligan said.

He was sharing a tent with two friends. Another friend stayed in a tent alone nearby.

Gilligan said he was sleeping in jeans and a sweatshirt, but no sleeping bag, when he heard the bear outside “pushing rocks around and stuff.” He figures the animal was looking for food.

The bear reached inside the tent’s flap, which was unzipped at the bottom. Gilligan said the bear grabbed him.

“I didn’t get a good look at it,” he said.

The attack was over quickly, he said. Gilligan’s friends helped scare the bear away.

After the bear took off, the campers packed up and left, reporting the encounter to a park ranger.

Gilligan, who received a tetanus shot, said that his experience won’t keep him from camping again.

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