A contracted employee of Greens Creek Mine is dead after being mauled by a brown bear near the mine Monday, according to a statement from the mine.
Greens Creek identified the victim as 18-year-old Anthony David Montoya of Hollis, Oklahoma in a statement Monday afternoon. Montoya was an employee of Timberline Drilling, a company based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho that provides core drilling services for the surface exploration program at Greens Creek.
At about 8:44 a.m. Monday, Troopers received the report of a mauling near the mine on Admiralty Island, according to an Alaska State Troopers dispatch. The dispatch was updated later in the day to say that when Troopers arrived on scene, they learned that a sow and two cubs had mauled Montoya and the three bears were killed prior to Troopers arriving.
Mike Satre, the manager of government and community relations for the mine, said in a phone interview that this is the first bear-related injury since the mine opened in 1989.
“Bears are frequent visitors to properties and worksites,” Satre said. “We’ve worked around them for decades, but there’s never been an encounter that’s resulted in an injury.”
The incident happened at a remote drill site on the surface of the mine property that can only be accessed by helicopter, the Greens Creek press release stated. Mine personnel are securing the area and working with authorities to investigate, the release states.
“I want to express our condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of the individual at this difficult time,” General Manager Keith Malone said in the release.
Satre said employees go through bear training before starting work, and bear spray is available for employees traveling between buildings. Greens Creek also offers site-specific training, Satre said, for remote areas such as the area where the incident happened Monday.
Ken Marsh, public information officer for the Division of Wildlife Conservation, said via phone Monday that wildlife troopers went to the island Monday morning, accompanied by a Department of Fish & Game biologist from the department’s Douglas office. There will be an investigation into the incident, Marsh said.
Greens Creek Mine is located about 18 miles south of Juneau, and produces silver, zinc, lead and gold. The mine is 100 percent owned and operated by Hecla Mining Company.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.