Horror as hiker killed by grizzly bear after taking photos of animal for eight minutes in Alaska’s Denali National Park

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  • It is the first bear mauling fatality at Alaska’s Denali National Park
  • Officials yet to release identity of lone hiker, whose backpack was discovered by a trio of fellow hikers on Friday
  • Rangers spot lone bear scurrying away during search

A hiker in Alaska’s Denali National Park photographed a grizzly bear for at least eight minutes before the bear mauled and killed him in the first fatal attack in the park’s history, officials said Saturday.

Grim Discovery: Evidence of the attack was found Friday afternoon by a trio of hikers, who came upon a lone backpack lying near a park river

Investigators have recovered the camera and looked at the photographs, which show the bear grazing and not acting aggressively before the attack, Denali Park Superintendent Paul Anderson said.

A state trooper shot and killed the bear on Saturday, and investigators will examine its stomach contents and use other tests to confirm it’s the animal that killed the hiker. 

The hiker was backpacking alone along the Toklat River on Friday afternoon when he came within 50 yards of the bear, far closer than the quarter-mile of separation required by park rules, officials said.

‘They show the bear grazing in the willows, not acting aggressive in any form or manner during that period of time,’ Anderson said.

Investigators have identified the man but won’t release his name until they’ve notified his family. They said he’s a U.S. citizen but declined to release any other information about him.

Rangers were hoping to recover his remains later Saturday after ensuring the scene was safe. Several other bears have been seen in the area.

Officials learned of the attack after hikers stumbled upon an abandoned backpack along the river about three miles from a rest area on Friday afternoon. The hikers also spotted torn clothing and blood. They immediately hiked back and alerted staff park.

A Fateful Search: Park officials launched a rescue helicopter around 8 p.m. Friday, or about two-and-one-half hours after the hikers came upon the lone backpack

Rangers in a helicopter spotted a large male grizzly bear sitting on the hiker’s remains, which they called a “food cache” in the underbrush about 100 to 150 yards from the site of the attack on Friday.

There’s no indication that the man’s death was the result of anything other than a bear attack, investigators said, adding that it’s the first known fatal mauling in the park’s nearly century-long history.

‘ ‘Over the years, and especially since the 1970s, the park has worked very diligently to minimize the conflict between humans and wildlife in the park.’

A wallet was later found near the site of the attack with probable identification. However, officials are yet to name the unfortunate hiker, as they work to identify the next of kin

‘We have some of the most stringent human-wildlife conflict regulations in the National Park system, and I think those are largely responsible for the fact that there hasn’t been a fatal attack.’

Park officials said they don’t believe other registered backpackers are in the immediate area. That portion of the park is closed but other wilderness areas remain open, officials said.

Prior to receiving a permit to hike in the area, all backpackers in the park receive mandatory bear awareness training that teaches them to stay at least a quarter-mile away from bears, and to slowly back away if they find themselves any closer. Investigators confirmed that the hiker had received that training.

Denali is located 240 miles north of Anchorage, and is famously home to Mt. McKinley. It spans more than 6 million acres and is home to numerous wild animals, including bears, wolves, caribou and moose.

Too-Close-For-Comfort: It was later discovered that the hiker had violated the quarter-mile berth that hikers are mandated to give bears roaming the wilderness

 ‘(The photos) show the bear grazing in the willows, not acting aggressive in any form or manner during that period of time.’

The attack was discovered Friday around 5:30 p.m., when a trio of other hikers came upon a lone backpack lying along the Tolkat River about three miles from a rest area.

‘Upon further investigation, they saw evidence of a violent struggle, including torn clothing and blood,’ a Park Service spokesman told The Anchorage Daily News.

The backpackers alerted park officials, who launched a helicopter around 8 p.m., the Alaskan paper reported.

The helicopter-borne rangers discovered the backpack about 30 minutes later, but were forced to return empty-handed because of the coming nightfall.

News Link:-http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2193635/Denali-National-Park-Horror-hiker-killed-grizzly-bear-taking-photos-animal-minutes.html#ixzz25w2AnoFe

 

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Alaska trapper shoots horse, uses it as wolf bait and snares important female wolf from Denali National Park

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In an incident somewhat reminiscent of the “bad old days” of the Wild West, a trapper from Healy, Alaska apparently hauled a dead horse out to an area off the Stampede Trail near the boundary of Denali National Park – an area made famous by the 1996 book “Into the Wild” – and set snares all around the area hoping to catch wolves attracted to the carcass.

Wolves from Denali National Park were drawn to the dead horse, resulting in the killing of a primary reproductive female wolf from the Grant Creek (also called Toklat West) pack from the park, along with at least one other wolf.

It is unknown how long the two wolves were alive in the snares before being killed and collected by the trapper. In addition, the only other breeding female from the Grant Creek pack was just found dead yesterday near her den, and thus it seems certain that there will be no pups in this pack this year. The Grant Creek wolf pack has been one of the three packs most often viewed in Denali National Park.

The snares, set by Healy guide Coke Wallace, were on state lands along the north border of the national park, and within the former protected “Denali buffer” where from 2002 – 2010 trapping and hunting of wolves was prohibited to protect the park’s wolves. Ignoring several proposals and hundreds of supporting comments from citizens in 2010 to expand the no-take Denali wolf buffer zone – including a proposal from Denali National Park itself – the Alaska Board of Game instead eliminated the protective buffer altogether. At the same time, the Board also imposed a moratorium on future consideration of any Denali wolf protection buffer proposals until 2016. Some have questioned the legality of the Board restricting public process in such a way.

While the Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADFG) say the incident does not violate state law, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) is looking at potential violations of state water quality regulations, which prohibit discarding carcasses in surface waters of the state

Of concern in this incident is that the Grant Creek female was killed just after the mating season for Denali wolves (which is late February — early March), and thus it is likely that she was pregnant with what would have been a new litter of pups (perhaps this family group’s only litter), when she was killed. Last year, park service biologists observed her nursing pups at the ancient Murie den, thus she would likely have been preparing to do so again this year. As such, her death causes a significant loss of new pups/recruitment to this important pack, and thus a loss of viewing opportunities for the many thousands of visitors to the park wanting to see wolves in the wild.

The Grant Creek wolf family group (“pack”) may be one of the longest-studied vertebrate lineages in the world, dating back at least to the 1930s when Adolf Murie studied them in the park. The pack’s home territory is eastern Denali, and as it is one of the packs most viewed from the Denali park road, it is considered a high value resource for the several hundred thousand visitors that visit the park each summer (see attached photos of the Grant Creek pack from Dr. Gordon Haber)

Read the rest of this post & contact details of people in the Denali National Park area : – http://www.friendsofanimals.org/news/2012/may/alaska-trapper-shoot.html

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