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Grizzly Bear Shot and Killed By Hikers In Denali National Park and Preserve

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A grizzly bear that emerged from a thicket and charged two backpackers in the backcountry of Denali National Park and Preserve was shot and killed by one of the two who was carrying a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, according to park officials.

The killing Friday is believed to be the first instance of a hiker killing a grizzly in the park's wilderness. The killing occurred in the original Mount McKinley National Park portion of the Denali, which was expanded by two-thirds in 1980.

Until February, when Congress changed the rules, it was illegal to carry a loaded firearm in that portion of Denali. While the rule change now allows hikers to carry firearms in all areas of Denali, it still is illegal to discharge them, park officials said.

Park officials did not speculate whether the killing was justified. This is believed to be the first instance of a visitor to a national park killing an animal with a firearm since the gun regulations were changed.

According to a release from the park, the two backpackers, a man and woman, were hiking in dense brush along the edge of Tattler Creek, which is at the west end of Igloo Canyon roughly 35 miles from the park headquarters.

"The man, who was in the lead, drew a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol when they heard a noise coming from the brush. When the bear emerged from the thicket and ran toward the other hiker, he fired approximately nine rounds in its general direction. The bear stopped, turned, and walked back into the brush, where it quickly disappeared from view," said the release.

The two then headed roughly 1.5 miles back to a road, where they encountered a park employee, who called in the incident and took the two backpackers to the Toklat Road Camp. A ranger there did a short preliminary interview with them at approximately 10:00 p.m. Because of the concern that a wounded bear was in the area, four backcountry units were immediately closed, and bus drivers were instructed to not drop off day hikers in the Igloo Canyon on Saturday.

"Early Saturday morning rangers and wildlife technicians flew to Toklat via helicopter to conduct a secondary interview with the two backpackers. Afterwards they flew over Tattler Creek and all of side tributaries, very low at times, to determine if there was an active, wounded bear," the park release said. "No bears were seen during the overflight, and late in the afternoon three rangers hiked into the site. The bear was found dead in a willow thicket approximately 100 feet from the pistol casings at approximately 6:00 p.m.

"The bear’s body was transported via helicopter to a landing site on the park road and brought back to headquarters on Sunday, where park wildlife biologists are assisting with the investigation of the bear carcass. The backcountry units have been reopened."

The case is still under investigation, and the names of the backpackers are not being released at this time. Park wildlife biologists and rangers are trying to determine if there was a justification for shooting the animal.

The estimated grizzly bear population in the park north of the Alaska Range north is 300-350 animals.

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Alaska grizzly bear kills Calif. man in first fatal bear attack at Denali National Park

By Associated Press, Published: August 25, 2012

The hiker was identified late Saturday as Richard White, 49, of San Diego. 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. 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.

APPARENTLY THIS WAS NOT A BLUFF CHARGE AND THE BACKPACKER DID NOT CARRY A GUN.


I cannot beleive some of the comments on here. Incredible How the hell does anyone know the difference between a bluff charge and a real charge? Id like the people that supposedly worked at denali to tell us.

Bear Spray, yelling and waving your arms really on a grizzly? Let me know how that works out for ya. I do agree with a lot of the comments on here though about the range of the hiker with a 45 acp handgun. To have killed a grizzly with a 45 acp the range must damn near been point blank. 45 is a slow moving slug. My hats off to the guy to being able to do it without becoming lunch.

I also have to ask all the gun haters that (that are male) posted their review how would you have reacted if it was please tell us. 2 hikers one male one female probably the guys wife/gf wouldn't you do what you could to protect her? If not Id have to question your morale character.

I do a lot of hiking all the time, and yes I do carry. I think it's irresponsible not to. Guns do have a place (despite all the people that think they don't). Guns can be used for self defense like in this case. Food if you happen to get lost or hurt and are out longer than expected. If lost it can be used as a locating tool if you know people are looking for ya, or it can be simple as self defense if you come across a 2 legged person who wants to get rid of ya.

I just think people jumped to conclusions without knowin the facts. If you are a gun hater please don't comment about something you know nothing about. Just like I wouldn't comment about your environmentalistic, gun banning advocate, probably pro-abortion vegetarian life that I know nothing about.

The people that have jumped on this guy for shooting the bear probably couldn't tell ya the difference between a 45 and a 300 win mag. I hate poachers, but bottom line is a 45 is not a poaching gun it's a self defense weapon.


I see alot of comments here that make me wonder how much people value human life. Yes the bear may have not been wanting to kill the hikers, but to basicly say they should have waited. if your such bear experts than you should know that bears move FAST and you don't have the time to react if you wait till he is in striking distance, then its too late. If he had a .45 Caliber then we can assume a few things, 1 the bear was really close to get a kill shot with a .45, and if he got 9 shots off it must have been much longer than just a bluff charge if he didn't just run away. I give 10% of my paycheck to the P.A.W.S foundation every year and do as much volenteer work as they will allow, I love animals and hate Poachers of ALL kinds, but if you have to protect yourself against an animal then it natural to choose your own life against the animals. I heart goes out to the bear and it also goes out to the hikers, I hike all the time and I carry a small 12g with me for wild animals that decide I look like a good meal, I had only one instance where I saw a mountain lion walking around in an open area, I grabbed my shotgun but also my camera and took some amazing pictures, he looked at me once and I got worried but he moved on, had he decided to start heading my way it might have ended diffently. My point is that I believe the hikers did what they felt they needed to do to protect themselve, they were not bear hunting or poaching just hiking, it was a bad situation that no one would ever want to be in.


the rest of what you say just sounds like you want to shoot bear

Much of the above discussion sounds that way. (I was being ironic.)


Sorry, anon. Your logic doesn't follow. If a bear is sprayed and goes away, "so terrible" maulings don't occur, and a once-sprayed bear is less likely to approach people in the future. After you admit that spray is more effective, the rest of what you say just sounds like you want to shoot bear.


In that case, it sounds like the smart thing to have done would have been to have policed their brass and walked-on as though nothing happened.


Interesting, Rick B. But I would just add the following:

Although bear spray has been proven to be more effective than guns in deterring grizzlies, bear maulings are terrible, as Anon above points out, and because they are so terrible, grizzlies should be shot instead of sprayed. It's just common sense.


And now another alternative - herbal bug spray!


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