Grim news from Denali National Park
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Sep 19, 2012 5:42 AM Last Post By: WILLEMSPIE
Aug 25, 2012 2:10 PM
Grim news from Denali National ParkDenail reported today on the discovery of remains of a hiker who had apparently been attacked by a bear (or bears). The first ever such fatality in the park - it's extremely unusual. You can read more about it at the park website. I'm sharing this mainly because TT has frequent posts asking about hiking in Alaska, and Denali in particular, and it's perhaps good to be reminded that one should be bear aware and prepared for the backcountry. I mean no disrespect to the victim.. Obviously, there is no way to know what happened in this case - the hiker may have been savvy and simply unlucky. It's often best to hike at least with one other person, though that is no guarantee of avoiding an encounter. Typically bears here avoid people. I'm sure more information will be shared as the park service completes its investigation.
Aug 25, 2012 2:26 PM
1Very sad for the victim - how incredibly unlucky to be the first bear fatality at Denali. A grim reminder that even in a relatively well developed (for Alaska) national park, bad things can and do happen, and that we should not be lulled into a false sense of security just because such incidents are rare.
Aug 25, 2012 4:15 PM
2In a press release I saw, the park was referring to the attacking bear as a predatory bear, and it's starting to sound like they think this wasn't a case of a hiking startling a sow with cubs or stumbling upon a fresh kill.
I tend to think of Toklat as a "developed" area, too. I was planning to stop off for a short hike when I drive in with my lottery pass next month.
Aug 25, 2012 4:30 PM
3Yeah, they do seem to suspect a predatory grizzly which is really unusual, at least from what I know. (Predatory in terms of humans. Of course, all bears are predatory). So horrible. And I can't imagine what it was like for the three who came upon the scene. I imagine they may close off the area to hikers for a while.
Aug 25, 2012 6:58 PM
4I remember a few years ago a bear mauling near the last campground before crossing the river on the park road beyond where cars normally drive (I can't remember the name at the moment). A couple was hiking cross-country through a brushy area and came upon a bear, startling it. When I camped at that campground at another time, I did see lots of wildlife, including a grizzly bear across the river. People are given instructions on bear safety for traveling in the backcountry, but not necessarily if they are simply hiking nearby developed campgrounds.
Aug 25, 2012 7:56 PM
5Damn, the hiker took pictures of it before it killed him.
Last fall there was a bear missing a paw that was hanging around the road a ways into the park and acting kind of odd/aggressive. I heard it was spotted again this summer. It'd be pretty crazy if this was that bear.<------just wild speculation.
Aug 25, 2012 8:40 PM
6The hiker was too close and did not leave when he came upon a bear. The fool stayed and was photographing a grazing bear for at least 8 minutes according to the camera timestamp.
The bear training mandates that you stay half a mile away from a bear and leave immediately if you come upon one. There's a damm good reason for that.
He paid with his life for ignoring the rules.
A male bear also paid for being a bear with it's life. Two casualties came from someone's foolhardy behavior.
Aug 26, 2012 5:28 AM
7Apparently not a predatory bear, not a sow with cubs, just an ornery old boar just doing his bear-business when the hiker snuck up too close to him. Regardless of the circumstances, they shot the suspected bear of course.
"A camera found near the backpack showed that the hiker had photographed the bear for more than eight minutes and appeared to have come within 50 yards of the animal before he was attacked."
Aug 26, 2012 1:19 PM
Aug 26, 2012 1:22 PM
9Mr. White had reported been backpacking for three nights, not clear where he had been previously. Three miles isn't very far off the road. He could have just gotten off the bus that morning.
I feel really sorry for those backpackers who found the scene. They must have hiked back in record time. I wonder if they slept indoors that night. It must have been terriflying to come across that site and realize it was a bad attack and not much earlier. I wonder if they will write about their story.
Aug 26, 2012 5:33 PM
Aug 27, 2012 2:28 AM
11Absolutely don't understand the killing of the bear. Were the photos not proof enough that the bear was not at fault? Was the lack of evidence of WHICH bear it was (prior to getting lucky at the autopsy) not enough NOT to shoot any bear? What if the evidence had NOT been found in the bear's tummy?? Were they going to kill every bear until they discovered who did it? The Superintendant needs to be dismissed.
Aug 27, 2012 5:56 AM
Aug 27, 2012 7:25 AM
13That's not quite true. They'll often relocate problem bears in an effort to break their behavior patterns when bears are frequently interacting with humans. Or try aversive conditioning. But they will generally try to kill a bear whose behavior is escalating prior to a person getting killed. A bear that has preyed on people has automatically been considered to have crossed the line and it is considered that he will repeat the behavior.
In other words there is a whole lot of interaction between people and bears where the bear doesn't get killed.
Edited by: Aruv bc autocorrect failed me
Aug 27, 2012 8:29 AM
14That is sometimes true Aruv, but it often depends on things like agency budget more than concern for wildlife. Increasingly, first offense bears (and mountain lions, coyotes, etc) are being shot and killed by state and federal wildlife officials. Also, if ;you look at the whole story behind trapping and moving wild animals (bears, elk, deer,) you find that the succes rate is low and many anamals die of stress soon after release in their new habitat, a statistic that is rarely seen.
Even worse, the Department of Interior's cryptically named Wildlife Services is paid by the U.S. taxpayers to trap and kill coyotes, mountain lions, bears or any other wild critter that threatens livestock owned by private ranchers that pay a pittance to graze their stock on our federal public lands. Of course all environmental damage to our public lands caused by their livestock is also paid for by you and me. Your tax dollars at work (against you).