North Pole man recovers from bear attack near Delta Junction

Posted: Friday, September 07, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A North Pole man is recovering from serious wounds suffered in a bear attack in the Interior this week.

Johnny McCoy, a baptist minister and former North Pole mayor, underwent surgery at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital after he was mauled Tuesday by a grizzly bear while hunting outside Delta Junction.

''The folks at the hospital are amazed at how wonderful he's doing,'' said Jeff Howe, assistant to McCoy, pastor of First Baptist Church of North Pole for 30 years. ''God's in control of this. God gets the glory.''

Doctors reattached McCoy's left ear. The hunter also suffered a large gash to his forehead and numerous bites to his arms and hands.

McCoy, 52, and his longtime hunting partner, Gary Corle, a deacon at the North Pole church, were moose hunting about 40 miles west of Delta Junction when they ran into the grizzly bear and her two cubs.

The bear initially knocked Corle down. He managed to get a shot off but missed the bear, which then went after McCoy.

After the attack, Corle, 59, carried McCoy three miles back to the camp where they had a cell phone and he called 911. He used game bags to wrap McCoy's wounds and stop the bleeding.

In a rescue involving several entities, McCoy was picked up by a Fort Wainwright medical helicopter and flown to Fairbanks.

The bear and two cubs escaped into the expanse of wilderness.

Steve DuBois, a Delta Junction area wildlife biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that bear sightings in the Delta Junction area are higher than usual, but not significantly so.

Most of those reports are of bears walking through the town, located 96 miles south of Fairbanks.

Except for Tuesday's incident, and a dog and pig killed by a bear in the area in July, most of the bears have been reported as nuisances.

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