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28-Year-Old Hunter Hospitalized After Bear He Shot Plunges Down Hill and Lands on Him

People logo People 2018-10-03 Jason Duaine Hahn
a black bear walking across a lush green field © Getty/All Canada Photos

A U.S. Army soldier stationed in Alaska is recovering from life-threatening injuries he received this weekend when a bear landed on top of him after it was shot along a hilltop, PEOPLE confirms.

William McCormick, 28, was with fellow soldier Zachary Tennyson, 19, when the men opened fire on a bear standing along a ridge near Carter Lake in the Chugach National Forest, state officials detailed in their daily dispatch on September 29.

“The pair were hunting in the area and shot a bear above them on a ridge,” troopers wrote in the report. “The bear rolled down the slope dislodging rocks in the process.”

The animal — a 200-pound black bear, according to KTVA — fell down the ridge and crashed into McCormick, who was also hit by a rock.

After state troopers and officials from Moose Pass and Bear Creek fire departments responded to the scene, McCormick was flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, where he was treated for “life-threatening injuries.”

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Tennyson escaped harm and the bear died during the incident, the news station reported.

McCormick, a specialist, and Tennyson, a private, both live on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and serve with the base’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, according to KTVA.

Army officials confirmed to PEOPLE that McCormick’s condition has improved since the accident.

“William McCormick is still being treated at the Providence Alaska Medical Center where his condition is listed as fair,” a U.S. Army Alaska spokesperson wrote in a statement to PEOPLE on Tuesday. “That is an upgrade from yesterday when his condition was listed as serious.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the Chugach National Forest is home to both brown and black bears, with the latter being the most common of the two.

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As noted by CNN, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says black bears routinely pack on weight during the late summer and fall, just before they head into hibernation during the winter.

These animals can weigh anywhere between 100 to 600 pounds depending on their age and sex and can measure five to seven feet tall when standing upright.

There are around 100,000 black bears living in the state, Alaska Fish and Game estimates, and thousands are hunted every year.

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