A polar bear killed a woman and a boy in Alaska before being shot dead

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A woman and a boy were fatally attacked by a polar bear in Alaska on Tuesday, officials said.

The bear went berserk in the small Welsh community, and a resident fatally shot the polar bear when it attacked the woman and child, the state’s Department of Public Safety said in a dispatch.

The identities of the two could not be released because authorities were still notifying their families, the department said. Their ages were also not available.

The attack was recorded around 2:30 pm.

“Initial reports indicate that a polar bear entered the community and chased several residents,” the dispatch reads.

An investigation was ongoing, but it could take time. Troopers and officials from the State Department of Fish and Game will travel there when weather conditions permit, according to the dispatch.

A spokesman for the Department of Fish and Game did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fatal polar bear attacks have been rare in recent Alaskan history. In 1990, a polar bear killed a man further north in Wales, in the village of Point Lay. Biologists later said the animal was showing signs of hunger, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

A 2017 study found that polar bear attacks on humans had increased this century and were most likely to occur when sea ice covered the least amount of ground — from July to December. The researchers said that as the ice recedes, bears are more likely to move inland and face humans.

Wales is a village of less than 200 residents on the Seward Peninsula, about 100 miles northwest of Nome. The Welsh Native Village Tribal Council website describes it as “one of the oldest communities in the Bering Strait region”.

The Associated Press contributed.

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