A hiker in Alaska’s Denali National Park photographed a grizzly bear for at least eight minutes before the bear killed him and cached his body before feeding on it.
The hiker, 49-year-old backpacker Richard White from San Diego, was backpacking alone along the Toklat River on Friday afternoon when he came within 50 yards of the bear, far closer than the quarter-mile of separation required by park rules.
“[The photographs] show the bear grazing in the willows, not acting aggressive in any form or manner during that period of time,” Anderson said.
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. A state trooper shot and killed the bear on Saturday, and investigators will examine its stomach contents and use other tests to confirm it’s the animal that killed the hiker.
The last time the Park Service dealt with a fatal bear attack in Alaska was in 2003 when a bear attacked, killed and ate self-professed bear whisperer Timothy Treadwell, 46, and girlfriend Amie Huguenard, 37, at Katmai National Park and Preserve about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage. Denali is about 240 miles in the opposite direction from the city.
Treadwell had spent years playing dangerous games with bears and his eventual death came as no great surprise to many people. The founder of an organization called Grizzly People, he had wanted to make friends with the 200 to 1,500 pound animals. It cost him his life.