A grizzly charged a Chugach State Park volunteer at a Hillside trail head Tuesday morning, prompting park officials to close the area until a nearby moose carcass can be cleared out.
The volunteer had gone up to open the gate to a parking area at the Canyon Road Trail head off DeArmoun Road when she saw the moose carcass. Then the bear saw her.
"She wasn't injured, but it sounds like it was kind of a close call," said Rick Sinnott, the Anchorage wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "I don't know that the bear was actually on the kill but it was probably close enough by, kind of guarding it."
Specific details on the charge, including how the woman escaped unharmed, were not available Tuesday. Park officials did not release her name.
Because the bear likely remained in the area, park officials closed the gate and trail at noon and planned to keep it shut at least until today, when officials could get out to try removing the carcass, said park superintendent Tom Harrison.
When the trail head reopens will depend on whether wildlife officials are successful. Even then, it might then take a few days to make sure the bear has moved on.
"I suspect we're going to have to leave it closed for another day or two," Harrison said. "We haven't really seen what the circumstances are up there right now."
Sinnott said he was hopeful officials would be able to get the carcass out without a problem. His crew has had practice. In July, he and other biologists removed the carcass of a moose calf that had been killed across the street from an Eagle River subdivision.
That bear charged the group, but did not attack, and all escaped unharmed.
"Since it's close to the road I think there's a good chance we'll get it out," Sinnott said. "If the bear's charging around and doesn't want us to take his carcass, we're not going to just shoot the bear and take the carcass. We'll close the trail."
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.