Hiker survives Alaska bear attack

The hiker received puncture wounds during the incident, but managed to walk away after deploying pepper spray

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An Indiana tourist was attacked on Monday by a grizzly bear in Alaska’s Denali National Park, but managed to walk away after deploying pepper spray.

The unnamed man survived the attack from a mother grizzly bear, who had one or two cubs nearby. The bear charged the hiker, who received puncture wounds to his calf, left ribs, and left shoulder, but managed to walk 1.5 miles to the Eielson Visitor Centre, where he and was picked up by a bus.

Park rangers received a 911 call from the transit bus driver, as the man got first aid from medical professionals who were holidaying in the park and riding the bus. The man was picked up by an ambulance and transported to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where he remains in a stable condition.

The man was hiking alone through dense fog when he was charged at by the grizzly, which knocked him down before he was able to use his bear spray.

“Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved,” the NPS said in a statement. “Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.”

Backcountry travel around the area has been suspended for one week in Denali National Park.

An estimated 300–350 grizzlies roam the north side of the Alaska Range, where salmon supplies are rich. “Most bears will avoid humans if they hear them coming,” states the National Park Service (NPS). Hikers should make their presence known on trails, by carrying a bell and travelling in larger groups where possible.

According to NPS advice, if a grizzly bear clacks its teeth, stick out its lips or huffs, it’s a warning you are too close. Try not to make sudden movements if you are confronted with a grizzly bear. A defensive bear will keep its head low, while a bear on the attack will keep its head high and its ears erect, if it’s the latter – you should fight back. “ Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second,” says NPS advice.

Talk to any bear you are confronted with in low tones and use pepper spray if the bear gets close enough when charging, states advice. Play dead if you are being attacked by a grizzly bear (not a black bear) and have no weapon – but don’t play dead until the bear is right upon you.

Wait until the bear leaves for several minutes after an attack, before you try to move from the area.

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