California Man Killed by Bear in Alaska

Man had been photographing bear for 8 minutes prior to attack

Park officials have named a hiker who was killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska's Denali National Park.

The National Park Service says in a statement Saturday night that 49-year-old Richard White of San Diego had been in the Denali backcountry for three nights when he was killed on Friday.

Officials said the hiker had photographed a grizzly bear for at least eight minutes before the bear mauled and killed him. It was the first fatal attack in the park's history.

Reuters reported that Denali park Superintendent Paul Anderson said the bear suspected of attacking the man, a large male grizzly, was found near the body and was shot from a helicopter Saturday afternoon.

Anderson also said investigators recovered the camera and looked at the photographs, which show the bear grazing and not acting aggressively before the attack.

Officials say the hiker came within 50 yards of the bear, far closer than the quarter-mile of separation required by park rules.

Read statement from park officials describing attack.

The rangers found about about the attack after hikers reported the following: 

Friday afternoon, three dayhikers first discovered an abandoned backpack along the Toklat River approximately 3 miles south of the Toklat River Rest Area.Upon further investigation, they saw evidence of a violent struggle, including torn clothing and blood.They immediately hiked back to the Rest Area and notified the NPS staff of the findings at approximately 5:30 pm.

Park rangers launched a helicopter and a fixed wing aircraft from park headquarters at 8:00 pm.Searchers on the aircraft located the scene at 8:35 pm.At least one grizzly bear was still at the site, although there may have been multiple bears.The bear(s) moved away when the helicopter approached and landed.Two rangers on board the helicopter got out and confirmed the location of the victim's remains.

Initial evidence indicates that the attack occurred proximate to the river's open braided gravel bar, although the bear subsequently dragged the remains to a more secluded, brushy cache site.After conducting an initial surveillance of the site, the rangers determined that the recovery of the remains would need to wait until daylight due to the presence of bears and the waning light.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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