A man was mauled by a bear near the Eklutna Lake Campground on Saturday after he threw barbecued meat at the animal, the Alaska State Troopers said Sunday.
The man was at the lake, north of Anchorage, for a church picnic, said Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen.
“He’d been drinking,” she said.
His name is not being released because he may be charged with illegally feeding wildlife, Ipsen said.
Troopers say this is what they believe happened based on an account of the event the man later gave:
Sometime around 5 p.m. on Saturday he broke off from the picnic and decided to go for a bike ride, bringing some food from the barbecue along.
He came across a black bear somewhere between a campground fee station and an ice cream stand near the park, Ipsen said.
The man threw a piece of meat at the bear, which ate it, she said. Then he offered another piece, she said.
“That’s when it kind of went ballistic,” she said.
The bear attacked the man, puncturing skin along his jaw and leaving him with scratches on his back, Ipsen said.
Park rangers later found the bloodied man washing himself off at the campground, said Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh.
“He wasn’t terribly coherent,” he said. “He was unsure of where the attack actually happened.”
The man was taken to an Anchorage hospital, where he was treated and released, Ipsen said.
Authorities are still trying to sort out exactly what happened because there were no witnesses to the attack and the man struggled to convey what had happened to a trooper who spoke to him at the hospital, she said.
A Fish and Game biologist dispatched to the scene couldn’t find the animal, Marsh said.
There’s no indication that the bear will attack other humans, he said.
“The bear was pretty much goaded into this,” he said.
Fish and Game biologists say people should never feed wild animals anything.
Biologists often warn people to avoid accidentally attracting wildlife with garbage, birdseed or backyard livestock.
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By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS