Denali Incident Not Uncommon at Other National Parks, Experts Say
A southern California man killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska’s backcountry was taking photos of the animal that killed him just moments before the attack, a National Park Service official said Sunday.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Richard White, 49, was standing 50 to 100 yards away from the bear that ultimately mauled him Friday, according to images found on his camera, park spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin said. He is the first person to die in a bear attack in the history of the park, which covers 4.7-million acres.
Hikers are typically advised to stay at least 300 yards away from a bear, McLaughlin said.
The death of the hiker in Denali Park near Anchorage, Alaska may have been a first for the park, but it is an all too common occurrence in the ruged state.
Bear attacks are not uncommon in Alaska in the summer months. There are several every year, and there have been at least three on the outskirts of Anchorage, the state’s largest city, this season. But fatal attacks are uncommon. The last deadly attack was in 2005 when an Anchorage couple, Rich and Kathy Huffman, were killed by a bear while camping in a tent along the Hulahula River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the state’s North Slope.
Hikers and campers need to remember that when you’re out enjoying nature, it is the realm of wildlife and you are the visitor. Safety precautions must always be taken.
Many bear attacks can be completely unprovoked. Quite often hikers will accidentally happen upon a mother bear and her cubs along a path. This can often trigger a defensive attack from the mother, who simply sees the hiker as a predator.
All national parks provide bear safety lectures, which all hikers are required to attend before heading off into the wilderness. Bear safety is truly a skill that everyone should learn, whether they’re heading off into the wilderness or simply setting up a weekend camp site.