Tuesday, June 20, 2017

First bear fatality of the year in Anchorage. Let's hope it's also the last.

Courtesy of Alaska Dispatch: 

A 16-year-old runner in a Bird Ridge mountain race was killed by a black bear he apparently encountered while descending the trail Sunday, Alaska State Troopers and the race director said. 

A Chugach State Park ranger shot the bear in the face, but it ran away. Rangers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game were still looking for the animal Sunday night on the slopeduring overlooking Turnagain Arm southeast of Anchorage. 

The teenager, who has not been identified, was a participant in the juniors division of the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb, said race director Brad Precosky. The close-knit Alaska mountain running community is in shock at the fatal mauling, he said. 

"This is the worst thing that could happen," he said.

I feel so bad for this young man, that is a terrible way to go.

And I feel just as bad for his parents, this must have just devastated them.

As Alaskans we learn to coexist with our ursine neighbors, but we also learn to take great precautions to keep ourselves safe if ever we encounter one.

This young man was alone and unprepared which made him especially vulnerable.

I would urge all of my fellow Alaskans to walk the trails in groups, make plenty of noise, and perhaps even carry a can of bear spray just as a little added precaution.

Fortunately my handful of bear encounters have been relatively peaceful, but I still remember the feeling of spine tingling fear that accompanied each of them.

I have taken to hiking early in the morning up around Glen Alps, and though I have not seen a bear there in over twenty years, I am still constantly on alert.

I think now for my next hikes that will shift to high alert.


  1. Anonymous4:51 AM

    Score one for the bears.

    1. Anonymous6:32 AM

      Serious Question, Why couldn't it have Scara, Brisket, DUH, Or Trackmarks that was killed?

    2. Anonymous6:58 AM

      have been,

  2. Anonymous4:56 AM

    The problem is that this vary of footwear is quite expensive, so
    the only alternative we're left with is online buying.

  3. LisaB25954:59 AM

    What's the cartoon? "Off the bus and into the food chain"?

    Certainly tragic, and aren't black bear deaths far more rare? I'm surprised.

    I have a friend who was in Canada for a wedding and related a story about feeding a baby moose and the mother chasing them off. I was like "do NOT go near a baby moose. The mom will kick the shit out of you.

  4. Anonymous5:25 AM

    I've seen several stories that said he texted his mom he was being chased by a bear. Seems very strange to me.


  5. Anonymous5:32 AM

    What sort of crowd would schedule a race through bear country? And if they want to race then surely they can run together through the dangerous bits and have a sprint at the end.

    1. Well to be fair the entire state is "bear country."

      And most bear encounters are relatively uneventful, and rarely result in injury or death.

    2. Anonymous7:34 AM

      Bear country? All of the USA is bear country for the black bear species.

    3. Anonymous2:03 PM

      So you'd be happy for your teenager to take part in these competitions?

  6. Anonymous5:33 AM

    The moral to this story: When chased by a bear, those $250 running shoes are no match for bear feet.

  7. Anonymous5:41 AM

    Wow, I'm a bit surprised that it was a black bear where real attacks ( bears of all kinds are masters of warning and bluffing) are very rare and not a grizzly/brown bear. The fact that t apparently stalked this teen is also out of the norm on a behavior level for them. My condolences to his family and friends.

    1. Anonymous8:23 AM

      I'm also surprised it wasn't a grizzly. Our area has loads of black bears. Just the other week, there were three separate local TV news stories about bears in trees. We're right on the Appalachian Trail, too. Plenty of bear encounters, but I can't remember the last mauling let alone fatality. Now I'm wondering if the bear was rabid. That would explain the unusual behavior.

    2. Anonymous9:18 AM

      There have been many fatal bear attacks and serious maulings in AK that were perpetrated by black bears. In outdoor training classes we are taught that often black bears are more dangerous than grizzlies as they are prone to stalking humans and are much more apt to consume a human after killing one.

  8. Anonymous6:07 AM

    Happened >

  9. Anonymous8:23 AM

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  10. Terrible for this poor young man and his family. Bear maulings are fortunately rare, because bears typically try to avoid people, and encounters resulting in death are even more rare, whether you live in Alaska, Canada, etc. Wherever you are, you're more likely to be killed by a dog (or an insect) than a bear.

    I remember a hiker in New Jersey being killed by a black bear a couple of years ago. He and his friends split up when they saw the bear, they panicked and ran away, and the bear unfortunately chased and caught him.

    My best friend, who routinely hunts and kills bears, sometimes with bow and arrow--which he butchers and turns into stew, ground meat for spaghetti, sausage, pepperoni, etc.--doesn't understand my terrible fear of the creatures.

    Bears horrify me. Possibly it stems from listening to "The Teddy Bear's Picnic" when I was a child. That and the grotesque sounds they make.

    Still I don't understand the tendency Gryphen has for overstating the danger of bears. Maybe read some books on Bear Attacks, G, like that written by Stephen Herrero.


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