Bear encounters and attacks in Far North Bicentennial Park prompted the city on Tuesday to close Rover's Run Trail, the scene of two serious maulings this summer, until further notice.
Anchorage Parks and Recreation notified some users at a Far North Bicentennial Trail User Group meeting Monday evening, said municipal manager Mike Abbott. The city has not ordered a trail closed in years, he said.
"We wanted to make it even more clear than we have in the past that there's a dangerous situation along this trail corridor right now," Abbott said. "We've been posting the area for some time now warning people about bears in the area, but apparently there's still consistent use on that trail over the last couple of weeks."
The mayor's office has been in contact with the Parks Department and asked for solutions that could be implemented. Closing the trail was one, and the mayor ordered it, Abbott said.
The move follows a bear attack Friday, in which jogger Clivia Feliz, 51, was left with a partially collapsed lung, a torn arm, and puncture marks on her head and neck after encountering a sow and her two cubs on the trail.
The trail is also the location of the severe mauling of Petra Davis, 15, in late June, possibly by the same animals. Wildlife officials have been hunting the sow, and plans now call for setting up cameras to assist in a possible attempt to trap it.
Police closed the trail immediately after Friday's attack so that officers and wildlife officials could patrol it without fear of shooting someone. Warning signs and an impromptu closure posting remained at the trail head through the weekend.
"A lot of times we'll try to clear the area just to make sure we have a safe backdrop. Beyond that, it's not like we're going to have officers or staff up there watching the trails to tell people, 'Sorry, closed,' " said police Lt. Paul Honeman. "We're not going to do anything special."
Violators can expect to be slapped with a trespassing charge if caught on the closed trail, he said.
There are no plans to physically block access to the trail, Abbott said, but the city is hoping people will realize the danger is real and avoid it.
The trail runs along the south bank of the south fork of Campbell Creek and extends from BLM Track Viewpoint Trail (Tour of Anchorage Trail) to the South Gasline Trail. A segment of Moose Meadow Trail also intersects it.
Honeman urged users on other trails to travel in groups and while in the backcountry to carry bear spray and to wear "dinner bells" to avoid surprising a bear.
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.