Clipart of A grizzly bear, but not THE grizzly bear.

Clipart of A grizzly bear, but not THE grizzly bear.

Rangers at Denali National Park are on the hunt for a young grizzly following a series of attacks that culminated in a minor biting. Takeaway lessons from the encounters: Banding together, making noise and throwing rocks works; playing dead is good once the bear attacks but not so much before the attack.

Here’s the National Park Service account:

Visitor Bitten by Grizzly Bear in Denali National Park
July 2, 2016

DENALI PARK, Alaska: A visitor was bitten and scratched by a grizzly bear on Friday evening, July 1 while hiking on the Savage Alpine Trail in Denali National Park and Preserve. Twenty-eight-year-old Fangyuan Zhou was hiking with friends when she encountered a small, asub-adult grizzly bear that bit and scratched her before fellow hikers were able to throw rocks and chase it off.

This incident occurred at approximately 7 pm on Friday evening on the west end of the Savage Alpine Trail. Zhou was hiking with two other people when she encountered the bear ¼-mile from the trailhead. Several other hiking groups were also on the four mile trail. A large group of approximately 10 people had been approached by the bear a short time before Zhou’s encounter, but they were able to scare it off by grouping together, shouting, and waving their arms. This action is exactly what the park encourages hikers to do when the have a close encounter with a bear.

Zhou and her friends had earlier seen the bear on the trail and were making efforts to avoid it. They all played dead when charged by the bear. The bear scratched and bit Zhou then walked away. When it returned several minutes later, a group member threw rocks at the bear, and it ran off. While playing dead is an appropriate response when physical contact with a bear occurs or is imminent, playing dead prematurely can invoke a curiosity response from a bear. Park guidelines do not recommend playing dead prior to contact.

Initial medical care was administered by NPS staff in the area. Zhou chose to self-transport to an Anchorage hospital.

The now familiar bear has been photographed by visitors and NPS staff. It has been identified as being involved in several incidents in the Savage area during the last two weeks. Previously, the bear was reported as charging visitors on Savage area trails, and it was successful in acquiring food from a day pack after charging a hiker on the Salvage Aline Trail on June 22. Subsequently, park wildlife technicians used aversive conditioning techniques (bean bags) on the bear with the hope that it was young and impressionable enough to become wary of people. The bear had not been seen during the five-day closure last week.

Park officials have intensified efforts to manage the situation. The erratic behavior of the bear over the past two weeks: approaching and charging several groups of hikers; biting and scratching a hiker;obtaining food from a hiker; and its general interest in people represents an unacceptable risk to safety in the highly visited front country of the park. Park staff will locate and kill the bear as soon as safely possible.

Advertisements