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Grizzly bear attacks Alaska biologist twice; biologist not upset at bear

Grizzly bear went back for seconds on an Alaskan biologist. The biologist survived and harbors no ill-feelings toward the grizzly bear.

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Not knowing there had been a bear attack, he was calling in to let Miller know he was within 5 miles (8 kilometers) and needed to know the exact pickup spot.

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"I told him what had happened. So he came in low, just doing outwardly expanding circles to make sure there was no bear around," Miller said.

Reassured the grizzly was gone, the pilot flew to the next valley and picked up geologist Ryan Campbell, who was trained as a wilderness medic.

Campbell cleaned Miller's wounds and applied pressure bandages to stem the bleeding. That's when Miller really began hurting.

"When he was cleaning out the wounds with this spray bottle ... it was a mixture of fire and electricity," Miller said.

He was flown to a nearby air strip where an emergency medical technician was waiting, then taken by medical helicopter on the more than hour-long trip to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

Miller was fortunate to have survived, said Rick Sinnott, an Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist.

He should have been packing a more powerful gun, Sinnott said. "You have to be a very good shot or very lucky to stop a brown bear with a .357 Magnum."

Miller did the right thing to play dead with the grizzly, Sinnott said.

"Most of the time they just want to neutralize you and if you are playing dead after they swat you or hit you, you are pretty much neutralized. But if you try to run or stand right up or are screaming or waving your arms around, then they think you are still a danger," he said.

Propped up in his hospital bed Wednesday, Miller gingerly touched what he thought were bite marks just above his buttocks on his left side. His right arm was heavily bandaged from bicep to wrist; another bulky bandage encased his right thigh, which the bear had chewed from the back of his leg to the front.

Miller's face was unscathed except for a few scratches, but the bear nearly ripped off his left ear. Using his finger, he traced where it had been reattached with two rows of stitches.

Still, the geologist, who until five years ago worked as a roofer, said he holds no grudge against the bear.

"The bear was just doing what bears do," Miller said.

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