Black Bear Kills, Eats Man in Alaska

Black Bear Kills, Eats Man in Alaska

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Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#1 Jun 12, 2013
Necropsy confirms black bear killed man near Delta JunctionPublished: June 11, 2013 Updated 19 hours ago
By CASEY GROVE Anchorage_Daily_News

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Troopers: Man dead in bear attack near Delta Junction


A black bear that was shot and killed at the scene of a fatal mauling in Interior Alaska last week was the bear responsible for the attack, Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday.An Alaska Wildlife Trooper shot the older male bear while troopers were investigating the death of Fairbanks resident Robert Weaver on Thursday. An examination of the bear's stomach contents found remains of Weaver, and a review of his wife's frantic 911 call confirmed it was the bear she saw attack him, troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.Weaver's wife called 911 on a cellphone about 6:45 p.m. Thursday, telling dispatchers a bear pounced on Weaver, 64, troopers said. The couple had seen the bear as they motored up to a dock in front of their cabin on Lake George, southeast of Delta Junction, said trooper Lt. Lantz Dahlke."The information we have is they yelled at it, and the bear moved away and went over to some brush, and it was watching them from the brush," Dahlke said.The couple started walking toward their cabin, Dahlke said."It attacked him. Then the victim told his wife to run to the cabin, so she ran to the cabin," he said.Weaver's wife grabbed a gun from inside the cabin, but the gun jammed when she tried to fire it, Dahlke said. A family member said the woman also tried to throw things at the bear."The bear obviously was not scared of her at all. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to help her husband any more than she could," Dahlke said.She had no choice but to retreat to the cabin and block the door, the trooper lieutenant said. The woman waited until military rescuers arrived in a helicopter about 9 p.m., troopers said. A wildlife trooper and good samaritans came by airboat, a troopers spokeswoman said.As the wildlife trooper investigated, the black bear returned, Dahlke said. Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters described the bear's behavior as "sneaking" up on them."The way the bear approached the troopers, they felt there was an imminent attack, so they killed it," Dahlke said.But it was not immediately clear if the trooper had shot the bear responsible for Weaver's death. The troopers flew Weaver's body to Anchorage and drove the bear's body to Fairbanks, both for examinations.A necropsy showed the bear to be a healthy, if old, male black bear, said Cathie Harms, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks. It was about 230 pounds and, though its exact age is still unknown, appeared to be between 10 and 20 years old, based on its teeth, Harms said. It could prove to be older, she said.The bear had a normal amount of fat on it, meaning it was not starving, Harms said. Initial tests have shown it also did not have any diseases or viruses, including rabies, she said."We saw nothing that would indicate any gross abnormalities," Harms said.The biologists sent the bear's stomach to the medical examiner in Anchorage who confirmed Weaver's remains were inside, said Ipsen, the troopers spokeswoman.

Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#2 Jun 12, 2013
It was a recording of the 911 call that definitively linked the bear to the attack, Ipsen said. Troopers had to rely on the recording, because they had not learned the type of bear in the mauling from their quick initial interview with Weaver's wife, Ipsen said."She was going through a lot, so it was pretty brief," Ipsen said. "Based on the information we had, we didn't feel the need to re-interview her and put her through any more trauma than what she's already been through."There were no other bears spotted in the area and the bear was a male, so there were no cubs it might have been defending, Dahlke said. It also did not appear to be protecting cached food, such as a moose carcass, Ipsen said.So far, there has been no explanation for why the bear attacked."As for why this happened, I don't think anybody really knows," Ipsen said.Given how many people venture into Alaska's wilderness, Harms said, it is extremely uncommon for a bear to attack a person. Deaths from such attacks are even rarer still, she said.There have only been four other fatal black bear maulings in about the last half-century, Harms said. Documented cases include an attack in the 1950s, one in the '60s, one in 1980 and another in 1992, she said.Just because the black bears are typically smaller than grizzly bears does not make them less of a threat, Harms said."I think a lot of people have arrived at a conclusion that black bears are not dangerous and grizzly bears are. And I think that's an unfortunate conclusion that's not true," Harms said. "I think people need to be careful about many different kinds of wildlife -- bears, moose, wolves. A lot of species can be very dangerous."

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Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#3 Jun 12, 2013
British Columbia has had an ongoing problem with black bears attacking humans for the past several decades. It's true they can be quite dangerous, as the brown bears and grizzlies are often doing quite good as far as food sources go (lots of salmon, etc.). I've had numerous encounters with black bears though and they've never shown aggression in any of the encounters, some in very close proxomity. In fact, Polenka, my husky shepherd, will chase them when they show fear. If they don't show fear, she straightens up and is cautious.

One black bear came near our tent early one evening. I thought Polenka was getting sick outside the tent, as it sounded like she was throwing up. But then she let out a howl that acts as an alarm, and the bear noticed and sauntered off. But the sound that seemed like she was throwing up was the fat bear grunting each time it took a step.
Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#4 Jul 1, 2013
Rovers Run Trail (in Anchorage) had a bear mauling in 2008--a woman on mountain bike, then 6 weeks later, the trail had a mauling--a man running--then in 2010 another bicyclist was mauled on same trail.

Albert Loop Trail near Eagle River Nature Center in Chugach State Park (n. of Anchorage) had 3 bear maulings in 4 years.

Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#5 Jul 1, 2013
Found info. in last post online:

"With bear attacks, is popular Anchorage trail overdue for overhaul?" by Rick Sinnott; March 18, 2013; Alaska Dispatch
Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#6 Jul 1, 2013
There are numerous stories online...Google "Anchorage bear attacks" and they come up. It's the time of year when there might be another one.
Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#7 Jul 1, 2013
Wow, wasn't aware of this one from 2008--it's along the same river we were attacked in 1996:

Bear attacks housekeeper in Anchorage

Friday, July 25, 2008 at 12:00 am

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP)- A 21-year-old woman working at a lodge for the summer was attacked by a grizzly bear about 25 yards outside a building.

Abby Sisk of Ogden, Utah, was returning from a hike late Wednesday when the bear came out of the bushes near the gravel path where she was walking at the Kenai Princess Lodge in Cooper Landing.

A lodge guest heard screaming and looked outside, then ran to help Sisk and managed to scare the bear away, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.

"It had her head in its jaws, and it dragged her a few feet," Ipsen said. She said Sisk had major cuts to her face and head.

Witnesses told troopers at the scene that the grizzly was a very large male, up to 8 feet tall and 500 pounds to 800 pounds.

A spokeswoman at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage said Sisk was listed in critical condition. Sisk's mother was en route to Anchorage yesterday.

Sisk started working at the lodge as a housekeeper in May. "She's been having a good time, doing a good job," Lodge General mMnager Dan Michels said.

The lodge has told guests to use shuttles to the main lodge or walk in groups around the property. Several trails have been closed, including the one where Sisk was attacked.

Columbia Daily Tribune; Columbia, Missouri
Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#8 Jul 1, 2013
Which I forgot to mention that we were attacked along the Kenai River in Alaska in 1996. Have written about on this forum before...Google 'A Can of Spray, A Lot of Luck'; Anchorage Daily News; 9/29/96...or the article can be accessed through ADN archives. That's better since copies of the story I've published online have been sabotaged on occasion.
Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#9 Jul 1, 2013
The article refers to me by my first name--Chris (Bruce middle name).
Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#10 Jul 1, 2013
One more...recall reading about this one as I fished for silver salmon there years ago:

Alaska bear victim pleads for help in 911 call

Published June 12, 2012
Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A 30-year-old Alaska man mauled by a bear pleads for help in a recorded 911 call, telling the dispatcher he's up a tree and can hear the animal huffing below him.

In the recording released by Alaska State Troopers, Ben Radakovich tells the dispatcher to send an ambulance, saying he is "bleeding bad."

Radakovich climbed 30 feet up the tree after he was mauled Sunday morning by a female brown bear with a cub on the Penguin Creek Trail south of Anchorage.

"The damn thing was batting at me," Radakovich tells the dispatcher.

It took rescuers almost two hours to reach him. Troopers say a helicopter was unable to land nearby, so rescuers used an all-terrain vehicle to carry Radakovich on a wheeled stretcher to transport him to the chopper one and a half miles away.

He was flown to an Anchorage hospital, and was released Monday morning, according to troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.

Radakovich, who lives in the Anchorage suburb of Eagle River north of town, did not respond to phone messages left at a number listed under his name. He told ABC's Good Morning America: "I'm just grateful that I got through it and that I'm here to enjoy another day basically."

Several bear and moose attacks in recent months have raised concerns in the area; no one has died, but some of the animals have been killed.


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Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#11 Jul 1, 2013
The article from 2008--"Bear attacks push Anchorage on edge" (reporting of three bear attacks there that year), has a good photo showing the bears footprints in the mud. That's exactly what it looks like. I found some like that on a trail outside Anchorage (near Stuckagain Heights--where the foundation remains from an old restaurant there), it's along a trail the bears use to go up Near Mountain to eat blueberries. One footprint was perfectly set in a big blue pile of bear poop. They had stepped right in it. Blueberries. They sleep down near the stream (below that foundation), found a bear den there, and walk to/from the blueberries up higher.
Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#12 Jul 1, 2013
Sure enough. When you Google "A Can of Spray. A Lot of Luck" the only link is to a site selling pepper spray. It quotes the late Keith Benner saying he believed the pepper spray helped save us, "that and some divine intervention".

I've been quoted warning against relying on pepper spray in a bear attack (in Alaska Magazine, Seattle Times (in a terrible manner--writer Florangela Davila made me look very bad in her pro-pepper spray article), and had numerous letters published in newspapers about it, including an opinion piece in Fort Collins Coloradoan, yet that doesn't show up online even when referring to the original ADN article. The latest letter published, in a New Mexico newspaper, even had the ADN reference omitted from the letter. Censorship, quite clearly.

Bruce Deile

Ketchum, ID

#13 Jul 1, 2013
So, instead, Google "Chris Deile bear attack", and you'll see the artciel and also the latest letter of mine published in New Mexico newspaper where they cut out reference to the ADN story (even though the letter submission was under their word limit).
CB Deile

Vancouver, WA

#14 Jul 13, 2013
A French bull dog trying to protect its family (of humans) from brown bears gets killed in Alaska:

Bear kills pet dog — Brown bear sow, 2 cubs, roam Soldotna-area neighborhood

Photos courtesy of Ryan Kapp.

A brown bear sow and two cubs roam through Ryan and Lauri Kapp’s yard Saturday. The family’s French bulldog, Gretzky, dies after attempting to defend his turf from the intruders.
Photos courtesy of Ryan Kapp. A brown bear sow and two cubs roam through Ryan and Lauri Kapp’s yard Saturday. The family’s French bulldog, Gretzky, dies after attempting to defend his turf from the intruders.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

French bulldogs are known to be more than just cute, flat-faced lapdogs. Their muscular, compact builds and loyalty to their owners also make them devoted companions, willing to defend their human family should the need arise.

One little Frenchie lost his life doing so this weekend in Soldotna.

“He thought he was 10 feet tall and bulletproof. He fought right to the end,” said Ryan Kapp of his family’s 6-year-old, tan-colored French bulldog named Gretzky.

The death of their beloved bulldog came after a fun-filled family weekend. At the latter part of last week the dog had accompanied the family on a float in the Fourth of July parade through the city of Kenai. Then the family went camping together. The first sign of danger at home arose while they were away.

“Our neighbor sent us a photo of three brown bears that came by our house while we were gone,” Kapp said.“The next day (late Saturday) when we got home and were unpacking from the trip, we saw a sow and two large cubs coming up the driveway again.”

Bears are not uncommon in this area — a woody subdivision across from Solid Rock Bible Camp along the Sterling Highway on the eastern outskirts of Soldotna, but they’re usually not as bold as these three were, given that Kapp said there were no attractants of any kind sitting out around the property — not dog food, birdseed or anything else. And the family’s garbage was in a bear-resistant container that the bruins put to the test.

“They knocked it over and were fumbling with it, trying to get inside. When they couldn’t they started circling all around the house. They came up on the back deck and right up to the sliding glass door,” he said.

The ever-vigilant Gretzky was not taking kindly to the bears. With a pet door to come and go as he pleased, the family attempted to enclose him in a room for his own safety. But he escaped his attempted confinement and bolted outside to run off the intruders.

“He got loose and shot out the door. It all happened so fast. He was defending us and the house. He ran right in the middle of the bears barking,” Kapp said.

Gretzky was a loyal and beloved member of the Kapp family.
Gretzky was a loyal and beloved member of the Kapp family.

While the 22-pound dog was tiny in comparison, the several-hundred-pound mama bruin went into defense mode of her cubs. As she started toward the bulldog Kapp said that Gretzky had sense enough to try and elude her, but wasn’t fast enough.

“She swatted him and knocked him down, then picked him up in her jaws. Then she stood on her hind legs and snapped her head back and forth,” he said.

It happened so fast the family didn’t have time to do anything but shriek “No!” Kapp said. Though he has a gun, he didn’t have time to get it, he said.

When he saw the family dog in the bear’s mouth, though, Kapp couldn’t just watch from the safety of his home. He took a few steps out the door, yelling and waving his arms, and it was enough to distract the bear into releasing Gretzky.

“She dropped him and took a step away. I kept calling Gretzky and he was able to clamber into the house while I distracted her. The whole thing took place in a split second,” he said.

CB Deile

Vancouver, WA

#15 Jul 13, 2013
The bears left the house, and initially the family thought the dog might not have sustained life-ending injuries. There was no blood or puncture wounds visible, so they thought perhaps — like a few years ago when a tree fell on him and cracked a few vertebrae but didn’t kill the dog — that Gretzky would pull through. But he wasn’t as lucky this time.

“His breathing was really labored so we wrapped him up in a towel and, despite being midnight, we called our vet and took off for Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic,” Kapp said.

Gretzky’s breathing got worse on the trip and he died just before Kapp could get him into the clinic. The veterinarians did what they could, but determined he had too many internal injuries to survive.

The loss is devastating, Kapp said, not just because it’s their beloved pet, but in having watched it happen. Kapp said the difficult part is teaching coping skills to his two children, Emerson and Spencer, 5 and 10 years old.

“We’ve tried to tell them that the bears were just doing what was natural. The mom was defending her young,” he said.“But the kids have always known Gretzky. He’s been by Emerson’s side since four days after coming home from the hospital. So we’re trying to get them to focus on the good memories.”

Kapp said that he and his wife, Lauri, are also trying to focus on getting the kids to feel safe in the yard and neighborhood again. He said he wants them to understand being cautious without being constantly afraid.

Kapp has alerted Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game of the incident, but he said he is hoping they do not kill the bears as a result of this incident.

As the family grieves for their dog, they said they also are taking solace in their good memories — Gretsky winning over nearly everyone he met, him scratching at the bed to snuggle with someone at night, running ahead to be the first one to the truck when going for a ride, and, most importantly, his loyalty to “his” humans.

“He died doing his best to protect the family,” Kapp said.
CB Deile

Vancouver, WA

#16 Jul 13, 2013
Sad. French bull dogs are super cute. They're all the rage in Vancouver, BC--everybody has one, and those French bulldogs tear it up in the dog parks. Very funny watching a bunch of them play.
CB Deile

Vancouver, WA

#17 Jul 30, 2013
Turnagain Arm trail closed after hiker kills charging bear

Published: July 29, 2013 Updated 4 hours ago


A man hiking on a popular Turnagain Arm trail near the Seward Highway killed a charging brown bear with a semi-automatic AK-74 rifle Sunday, prompting Chugach State Park rangers to close a section of the trail.

The hiker, who has not been identified by Alaska State Troopers, had set out from the Rainbow trail head at Milepost 108 of the highway Sunday morning, said Tom Crockett, a park ranger. He was near the first Turnagain Arm viewpoint, about a half-mile up the trail toward McHugh Creek, when he spotted the bear. It was on the edge of a birch and spruce forest with abundant blueberries and serviceberries.

“The bear presented its rear end to him,” Crockett said.

The man called,“Hey, bear,” hoping not to startle the animal, he said.

The bear turned and charged, the hiker later told rangers.

The man fired the AK-74 he was carrying, Crockett said. The bear stopped after the first volley of shots, and then charged again.

The man fired once more, Crockett said.

That time the bear folded into a ball, rolling and running downhill and thudding to a stop in a clump of birch trees about 100 yards from the trail.

“There it expired,” Crockett said.

The man called 911 and asked for help.

Crockett and an Alaska State Trooper who responded found the man in the same spot on the trail where he encountered the bear. He wasn’t willing to walk out alone.

“He told me he’s never been so scared in his life,” he said.

Crockett estimated the bear weighed 500 to 600 pounds. The animal bore marks of an eventful life: He had a “big hulking” scar running over the top of his head, likely from a tussle with another bear.

“It was sad to see him go because he was a beautiful specimen,” he said.

It’s not unusual for people recreating in the Chugach to arm themselves with guns for bear encounters, Crockett said. But the gun used in Sunday’s encounter isn’t a typical choice for bear defense.

The AK-74 rifle is an updated version of its cousin, the better-known AK-47 assault weapon. It fires a smaller caliber round than the AK-47 and remains popular in the countries of the former Soviet Union, where it was produced in the 1970s.

“Most people carry something larger caliber,” he said.

It’s legal to carry a gun in Chugach State Park, but guns can only be discharged in defense of life and property or legal hunting.

Crockett says he believes Sunday’s incident met the defense criteria.

The bear’s head and hide were removed and turned in to Alaska Department of Fish and Game for sealing and confiscation, said area wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane. That’s legally required in incidents of defense of life and property.

The rest of the carcass is still at the spot where the bear was killed, Crockett said. It would have been impractical to remove because of the terrain.

“It’s a heck of a lot of bear to haul out,” he said.

CB Deile

Vancouver, WA

#18 Jul 30, 2013
Crockett said he has been fielding calls from residents of Rainbow Valley, who heard the semi-automatic gunfire coming from the trail. Some have raised concerns about the carcass remaining near the trail. Bears protecting a food cache like the carcass can be especially defensive and dangerous.

Bear sightings are reported each summer all over the Turnagain Arm trail.

Crockett said he’d heard a report of a sow and cubs a few miles away on a section of the trail near Windy Corner Monday.

People should hike in groups, make noise and be aware of their surroundings, Coltrane said.“Surprising a bear is usually the worst thing you can do.”

Bear spray can be an effective deterrent.

This is the second time a brown bear has been killed in defense of life and property in the Anchorage area this summer, Coltrane said. A brown bear was killed in Chugiak earlier.

The trail remained closed Monday afternoon. A yellow sign warning of hikers of the presence of a bear carcass was posted near the trail head.

The carcass near the trail will attract other bears, Crockett said.

“This guy is going to get recycled by nature,” he said.

People should stay away.

“My fingers are going to be crossed that a trail runner doesn’t just blow through the warning signs, thinking,'Oh, it’ll be OK this time,’” he said.

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CB Deile

Ridgefield, WA

#19 Jul 30, 2013
Troopers determine bear killing was justified

Published: July 30, 2013 Updated 43 minutes ago

Turnagain Arm Trail is closed at Rainbow as the area has been put on a bear alert.


Related Stories:
Turnagain Arm trail closed after hiker kills charging bear

The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Authorities have determined that a hiker was justified in shooting and killing a brown bear.

The hiker, who was alone, came across the bear Sunday along the Turnagain Arm trail, and the animal charged him.

Alaska State Troopers say the investigation has determined the shooting falls under defense of life and property.

Troopers won't identify the hiker, and the defense of life and property investigation is not a public record.

The hiker shot 13 rounds from an AK-74 at the bear from about 25 feet away. The hiker wasn't injured.

Officials say the bear was skinned and the head removed. But a large portion of the carcass remains about 100 yards off the trail south of Anchorage, and likely will attract other bears. Part of the trail remains closed.

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CB Deile

Vancouver, WA

#20 Jul 31, 2013
Polar bear crosses electric fence, mauls US hiker camping in Canadian park

Published: July 29, 2013

From CBC News: A Maine man hiking with a group in a northeastern Canadian national park was dragged from his tent and mauled by a polar bear last week, despite the fact that their encampment was surrounded by an electric fence.

Dyer was mauled by the bear but was dropped after the other group members fired flares to scare the bear off.

Jeanne Wells, Dyer's wife, said in a statement that she's grateful for the help he's received.

"My husband is in critical but stable condition; he is a strong man and he is making improvements every day," she said.

Dyer's group had not hired an armed Inuit guard against bears, as recommended by Parks Canada.

Read more: Hiker recovering in Montreal hospital after polar bear attack

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