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


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.


Yes, but not all situations end up like the Jungle book. None of these people were there and need to stop trying to share their Dances with Wolves experiences in the wild. I think there need to be some more comments about bear maulings, then people may change their mind sets...

Yes, but not all situations end up like the Jungle book. None of these people were there and need to stop trying to share their Dances with Wolves experiences in the wild. I think there need to be some more comments about bear maulings, then people may change their mind sets...

Yeah, but if you had to choose between your lassie or your wife, child, loved one....who would you choose? Don't make irrational statements, like Lassie or Stallin...come on...if I felt threatened by a bear, I would try to read the situation and then I would defend myself with whatever means necessary if the situation merited it...

A conealed weapon is as dangerous as someone makes, but also as safe as someone makes it. Law abiding citizens have the right to carry and use when the need to defend one's life arises; whether it be from a human or an animal. The odds of someone having to use a firearm to defend his/her life is not great at all, however, I don't want to be one of the ones who is helpless should the need ever arise...especially from a grizzly bear. Someone else had a point that if the grizzly was able to be killed by a 45 cal, then it was close enough to be dangerous, not just close enough to have a little sniff...

I'm a retired Comercial Pilot who is 82 year sold & have hunted all over north america.

I love animals as well as the next person. Now to the substance of my argument:

1. After many, many attempts we were succusfull in getting congress to leagally allow firearms in National Parks, in other words human life is more precious than animals.

I absolutely REJECT any other approach ! I was once confronted by a boar black bear in Colorado, I was armed, however I didn't have to shoot him--we both ended that confrontation happy.

The woods belong to the animals, we people keep driving them away with to many people and buiding to many houses. What is a bear suppose to do u entered their home and knowingly that there is a strong possibility u will encounter a bear in the woods(doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out) so yes if u decide to take such a risk an encounter a bear and shoot it and kill it u should be charged..

Seems pretty cut and dry to me. If a bear is charging at me, I'm going to shoot it. I'm not a "bear biologist," nor should I have to be to hike in the wilderness or national parks that my tax dollars pay for! I should be able to defend myself (with any tool I deem necessary, including a firearm) anywhere I go, I have a right to defend myself, and others do as well.

If a human-being points a gun at you or lunges towards you with a knife, nobody speculates whether the aggressor/attacker was just trying to scare the petentiol victim and do a "bluff charge," when the victim shoots the agressor, nor should they. While your life (or loved one's lives) are on the line, you don't have time to think about that kind of crap, especially if you're not a "bear specialist." I am going to do whatever is necessary to protect myself and my loved one's lives. It's an animal's life that was lost, less important than a human lives. I've read quite a few stories where "standing in groups," and waving one's arms did not scare a bear away and people died, so it all depends on the bear. So all you bleeding heart, anti-gun liberals, that care more about an animal's life than a human-beings, by all means, please feel free to take your chances in front of an aggressive bear. I on the other hand will not!

I thinks they did the right thing, bears runs very fast and its just ridiculous to stand still and find out bears intentions that weather he is bluffing or serious. The law not to discharge weapons is stupid, if someone trying to protect his/her life, he should discharge it.

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