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Remains of bear attack victim found, Alaska

A man was mauled by brown bears while on a boat trip.

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Researchers said the area of the attack in Sitka, a small community on Baranof Island, was heavily populated with bears. (BERND WUSTNECK/AFP/Getty Images)

The remains of a 54-year-old man who disappeared while on a boating trip have been found on a southeast Alaska island.

Police believe they are from a Stitka man, who failed to return home from work.

They said Tomas Puerta left Sitka set off from his small community on Baranof Island in a skiff on Thursday to attend to a forestry job site, and was likely attacked by one or more brown bears, ABC News reported.

The area of the Alaskan islands, known as the "ABC Islands", is a known habitat of bears.

Investigators believe Puerta experienced engine problems with his boat while on the job site and went ashore.

Fox News reported passers-by in another boat noticed an unsecured skiff and when they went to look they were confronted by a brown bear sow with two cubs who was protecting a cache of food and behaving in a hostile manner.

Police were called and found evidence of a struggle. Fox News said a trail of disturbed vegetation led them to pieces of clothing and what appeared to be the human remains, which had been partially eaten. 

Police said the evidence suggested Peurta was attacked by the sow and cubs.

"Whether or not that's the actual bears, I don't know," he said. "That particular area has lots of bear activity in it."

The remains were taken to Anchorage for an autopsy by the state medical examiner

The Huffington Post said researchers had discovered the area was heavily populated with the bears, which more closely resemble and are closely related to polar bears than to other brown bears. 

"They have lots of bears, especially up on Chichagof," said Sitka police Lt. Barry Allen. "We have enough here on Baranof Island, but Chichagof has a scad of them."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121016/remains-bear-attack-victim-found-alaska