Eagle River man hospitalized after brown bear attack

Michelle Theriault Boots

The victim of Saturday's bear mauling in Eagle River says that the attack happened in a wooded area of his 66-acre property on Mariah Drive, high on a hillside bordering wilderness. The victim and an Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist who visited the scene both say it was not on a hiking trail a mile off of the Eagle River Road, as an Anchorage Police Department spokesman had initially said on Sunday. Police said their information came from dispatch reports. Updated story here.

Original story:

Police say a brown bear mauled an Eagle River man walking on a hiking trail near his home Saturday evening, leaving him with scalp injuries and claw marks on his back.

The man, identified by police as 57-year-old Howard Meyer, was on a trail described by police as about one mile from Eagle River Road.

At 6 p.m. Saturday a bear knocked him down from behind, said Anchorage Police Department spokesman Lt. Dave Parker.

It's unclear exactly where that trail is or in which direction Meyer was hiking. Meyer lives on nearby Mariah Drive, a mountainside subdivision below Ram Valley, Parker said.

Mariah Drive is about 3.5 miles from the Eagle River Nature Center.

Meyer told Parker that the bear was "stomping and huffing" at him.

"All of a sudden he's knocked over and rolling around with this very large creature," Parker said.

The bear clawed and bit him but didn't continue the attack for long, Parker said.

When it ran away Meyer was able to call 911 from his cellphone.

When police arrived, they carried rifles in search of the bear.

"There were children playing not too far from there," he said.

But the bear hasn't been seen since, Parker said. Based on its behavior, officers think it may have attacked because it was surprised.

Paramedics transported Meyer to an area hospital where he was treated for his injuries, which police said were not life-threatening.

On Sunday, Meyer was conscious and able to speak briefly from his hospital room. He said he needed to get some sleep.

This is the first report of a bear attack in the Anchorage area police have heard of this year, Parker said.

Asta Spurgis of the Eagle River Nature Center said that while the entire Eagle River Valley is bear habitat, staff and visitors haven't reported any sightings yet this year -- just tracks and scat.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at mtheriault@adn.com or 257-4344.

Anchorage Daily News