Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bear Attacks

While it is extremely regrettable that a hiker was killed by a Grizzly bear in Alaska's Denali National Park, it is doubly tragic that the bear was subsequently killed by the rangers as a matter of course.

The hiker's camera contains 8 minutes' worth of pictures of the Grizzly doing nothing but grazing, showing no sign of aggression. However, they also show that the hiker was only 50 yards = 150' from the bear, when park policy stipulates the minimum distance to be 1/4 mile = 440 yards = 1320'.

I've worked many times in Grizzly bear country in the British Columbia interior, with bear encounter stories to tell. I urge all hiking in Grizzly bear habitat to observe the following rules of the wild:

1. Never take non-aggression of a bear for granted.

2. Make a lot of noise to warn bears in the area of your presence; and they will usually avoid you.

3. Never go between a mother and her cubs.

4. Know a bear's body language and differentiate the warning mode (roaring, standing on hind feet, mock charging) from the predatory mode (head down, slowing but inexorably advancing towards you).

5. Never run from a bear; a human can never outrun a bear, but running will trigger their pursuit instinct. A joke has it that if you do run, you'd don't have to outrun the bear, just the slowest runner. :)

6. If the bear exhibits the warning mode, do not turn your back on the bear, but slowing back away. When mock-charged, stand your ground, but wave your arms or open an umbrella, etc., to make yourself look as big as possible. Climb a tree if the charger is a Grizzly, and if there is a tree around. When attacked by a bear, and if you have a can of bear spray, hold your fire until the bear reaches spraying distance; you have only one chance to do it right. If you have no spray, and if the attacker is a Black bear, fight back with all your might; if it is a Grizzle bear, and if there is no tree to climb, play dead - fetal position, with arms around your head, and, just in case, kiss your ass good-bye.

Bear in mind (not a pun), if your behaviour triggers a bear attack, and you get hurt, it'd be a death sentence for the bear.

Anthony Marr

Richard White’s mauling was first in park’s 95-year history. Grizzly bear was later tracked and killed.

New York Daily News
by Anthony Bartkewicz
Sunday, August 26, 2012

A hiker was killed by a grizzly bear at Alaska’s Denali National Park in the first known fatal mauling in the park’s history.

The victim was 49-year-old Richard White of San Diego, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Photos recovered from his camera showed that he lingered after encountering the bear near the Toklat River and took several pictures instead of backing away.

Three hikers found bloody clothes and an abandoned backpack near the river Friday afternoon, park representatives said.

They notified park rangers, who launched an air search for the scene and found one grizzly at the site where White was mauled.

On Saturday, rangers found that a bear had dragged his remains to a more secluded brushy area. Later in the day, they shot a grizzly believed to be the one that killed White.

White, like all backpackers at Denali, was required to undergo the park’s “Bear Aware” training before getting a permit to hike through the backcountry.

Park spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin told the Anchorage Daily News that thanks to the mandatory training, “it's not common that we even have injuries related to bears.”

White’s death was the first death by mauling in Denali’s 95-year history.

The backcountry area where he was killed was closed to hikers and campers until further notice, officials said.

Read more:

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

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