A large grizzly bear lurking around a moose it killed, then buried, on the Crow Pass Trail has caused state parks officials to keep a section of the popular 26-mile trail closed since the beginning of July.
The mature bear reportedly killed a moose July 1 on the trail, which runs from Eagle River to Girdwood. Park rangers closed a section of the trail between Dishwater and Icicle creeks, about six miles from Eagle River, said Chugach State Park Superintendent Tom Harrison. The bear buried the carcass just off the trail, Harrison said.
"They'll defend their kill and come back and feed on it," Harrison said. "It is a brown bear, it is a (moose) kill, and that gives us cause for concern."
A man hiking on the trail sometime after the closure shot at the bear, and it's unclear if he wounded it, Harrison said. Park rangers and state biologists are flying to the area Saturday to try to find the animal, he said.
At this point, considering the bear's location and the obvious signs warning hikers, there's no reason the bear should be killed, Harrison said.
"What gets bears into trouble more is bad behavior. Defending their food source is not bad behavior," Harrison said.
There is some concern that the closure will affect the Crow Pass Crossing, a marathon-length, mountain-running race set for July 21, Harrison said. But if current estimates prove true, the bear should soon be done eating the moose by then, he said.
The most up-to-date information can be found at a Crow Pass Trail page on Facebook, Harrison said.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.