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Turnagain Arm trail closed after hiker kills charging bear

Michelle Theriault Boots
Location: northern Admiralty Island, 08/25/13 My wife and I were hiking along a stream on northern Admiralty Island which experiences a huge pink salmon run, especially in odd-numbered years. The salmon run draws brown bears to the stream and this photo shows two brown bear cubs leaving the stream after feeding on salmon.
Photo courtesy of Jerry Reinwand / ADN reader submission
Location: Romig Park, 07/05/13 Black bear visiting my backyard on Hillcrest Dr.
Photo courtesy of Dee Brown / ADN reader submission
Location: Government Hill Neighborhood, 7/8/2013
Photo courtesy of Erik Halfacre / ADN reader submission
Location: Russian River, 6/19/13 My uncle Bruce fishing on the Russian River. Everyone was safe.
Photo courtesy of Eutheda / ADN reader submission
Location: United States, March 13, 2012 Bear with cub feeding on a whale carcass on a Kodiak beach
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Odell / ADN reader submission
Location: denali national park, 9/21/13
Photo courtesy of brian luenemann / ADN reader submission
Location: Remote Alaska kayak trip, 08/09/13 Two bear cubs peek over one another from behind a tree trunk.
Photo courtesy of A Taste of Anchorage culinary walking tour / ADN reader submission
Location: Pacific Coast of Katmai NP, July 8, 2013 Captured this unique situation near Hallo Bay Camp
Photo courtesy of Simyra Hlebechuk / ADN reader submission
Location: Bootlegger's Cove, 07/02/13
Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Wilder / ADN reader submission
A black bear cub climbs a tree in an east Anchorage neighborhood. It was with siblings and their mother.
Nicolette J. Dent
Location: Near cooper landing, 5-10-13 On our way to homer for mothers day!
Photo courtesy of Teresa Boddy / ADN reader submission
Location: United States, 9/21/13
Photo courtesy of brian luenemann / ADN reader submission
Location: Remote Alaska, 07/31-13 A bruin rises from tall reeds to see friends.
Photo courtesy of A Taste of Anchorage culinary walking tour / ADN reader submission
Location: Admiralty Island, 05/26/13 During a trip to Admiralty Island in late May we spotted several adult brown bears. This was one of the larger bears that we saw.
Photo courtesy of Jerry Reinwand / ADN reader submission
Location: Bootlegger's Cove, 07/02/13
Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Wilder / ADN reader submission
Location: Anchorage, 06/19/13 A black bear sow and cubs were on in an east Anchorage hillside.
Photo courtesy of Nicolette J. Dent / ADN reader submission
Location: Peck Avenue Anchorage, AK, 5/25/13 I took this photo from inside of my apartment building last summer. A black bear stopped to smell my flowers and grab a bite to eat!
Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Echak / ADN reader submission
Location: United States, May 2013 Who me?? Alaska Wildlife Preserve (Turnagain Arm)
Photo courtesy of Ralph LaForge / ADN reader submission
Location: Sable Pass-Denali National Park, 08/14/13 A yearling cub was having a little fun with the closure sign on Sable Pass on the ride back from Kantishna yesterday, while his sibling and mother were nearby eating berries.
Photo courtesy of Beth Sturgeon / ADN reader submission
Location: Pacific Coast of Katmai National Park, July 8th, 2013
Photo courtesy of Simyra Taback-Hlebechuk / ADN reader submission
Location: Cooper Landing, 07/04/13
Photo courtesy of Chris Brewster / ADN reader submission
Location: Anchorage, 06/19/13 A black bear sow and four cubs were in an east Anchorage neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.
Photo courtesy of Nicolette J. Dent / ADN reader submission
Location: Katmai National Park, Late August 2013 Bear sighting trip to Katmai National Park, flying from Homer late August 2013
Photo courtesy of Randi J. Boldevin / ADN reader submission
Location: Denali park, 09/16/2013
Photo courtesy of Robert Trejo / ADN reader submission
Location: Sitka Alaska, 08/08/13 Taken at Starrigavan below the bridge.
Photo courtesy of Evelyn Schenck / ADN reader submission
Location: Our backyard in Airport Heights, 07/12/13
Photo courtesy of K Harich / ADN reader submission
Location: Cooper Landing, 07/04/13
Photo courtesy of Chris Brewster / ADN reader submission
Location: Mile 13 Seward Highway, 06/01/2013
Photo courtesy of Jim Hunt / ADN reader submission
Location: june -13, Katmai Nat.Park Isn´t she beautiful?
Photo courtesy of Calle Fahlquist / ADN reader submission
Location: Denali Park, 09/16/2013
Photo courtesy of Robert Trejo / ADN reader submission
Location: Old Glen HWY, 08/06/13 While hiking through the forest next to the Old Glen Highway. I found a Black Bear Watching me.
Photo courtesy of Fireweed Bear / ADN reader submission
Location: Kenai Peninsula, 6/28/2013 Sweet little bear.......
Photo courtesy of Camino / ADN reader submission
Location: Cooper Landing, 7/8/13 I had just stepped back inside our cabin in Cooper Landing after taking a picture of an Eagle perched in a nearby tree when my wife said a big dog or a bear just walked by the front window...it was a young grizzly.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Flothe / ADN reader submission
Location: Mile 13 Seward Highway, 06/01/2013
Photo courtesy of Jim Hunt / ADN reader submission
Location: IHOP at Tikahtnu Commons, Anchorage, 10/19/13 This black bear easily scaled the dumpster enclosure and found a gallon sized container in the dumpster that he left with. It Returned shortly after and was scared off by police car/ lights and siren.
Photo courtesy of Travis Schaffan / ADN reader submission
Location: Russian River, Sept 12,2013
Photo courtesy of Zane Giles / ADN reader submission
Location: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, 07/30/2013
Photo courtesy of Galena Mihaylova / ADN reader submission
Location: On Baby Bear drive in Anchorage, 6/20/2013 Just cruising the street looking into people's windows
Photo courtesy of Joy berger / ADN reader submission
Location: Cooper Landing, 7/8/13 My wife was sitting at our computer in Cooper Landing at 11 pm e-mailing a picture of a grizzly bear we had taken earlier in the yard when she looked up and said "the bear is back." It looked up at me in the study as I took it's picture with the outside motion light reflecting in its eyes. We have no trash or bird feeders out so we hope it wanders off as it is getting unBEARable.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Flothe / ADN reader submission
Location: near Earthquake Park, 06/11/13 One of 3 cubs and a mom that crossed the road west of Earthquake park by the airport at noon today. She was headed toward the trail crowded with tourists.
Photo courtesy of Jim Engel / ADN reader submission
Location: denali national park, 9/21/13
Photo courtesy of brian luenemann / ADN reader submission
Location: Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage, 9-10-13 Hugo, the (girl) grizzly bear
Photo courtesy of J. Roese / ADN reader submission
Location: Tudor Road, 7/21/13 The black bear stopped traffic crossing Tudor from the green belt to the apartment buildings. At first I thought it was a large black dog, but it moved differently and didn't seem to understand cars at all. When it got closer I could see it was a bear. While 'parked' in the middle of Tudor Road, I snapped a couple pictures. This was the best.
Photo courtesy of Tracy Barbee / ADN reader submission
Location: Mills Drive, 07/12/2013 This black bear was digging into a bird feeder when we went on a bike ride today
Photo courtesy of alice woods / ADN reader submission
Location: AWCC, 06/16/2013 Brown Bear at Alaska Wildlife conservation Center (AWCC).
Photo courtesy of Ivan C. Nate / ADN reader submission
Location: Admiralty Island, 05/23/13 This photo was taken near Hawk Inlet on northern Admiralty Island. The brown bear sow and her two cubs were feeding on the recently-emerged grasses and sedges along a stream in the area. When the bears spotted us in our Zodiac, they ambled into the nearby woods.
Photo courtesy of Jerry Reinwand / ADN reader submission
Location: United States, 9/21/13
Photo courtesy of brian luenemann / ADN reader submission
Location: Valdez, 09/05/2013
Photo courtesy of Callie Michaud / ADN reader submission
Location: Outside of Anchorage on Kenai Penninsula, May 23, 2013 Shot with my Canon Power Shot SX260 HS with a 20x optical zoom.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Carey / ADN reader submission
Location: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, 07/15/13
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Melesciuc / ADN reader submission
Location: Kenai River, 05/26/2013 We saw this bear along the Kenai River.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Kruse / ADN reader submission
Location: Between Earthquake Park and Point Woronzoff, 06/30/13
Photo courtesy of Sam Case / ADN reader submission
Location: Admiralty Island, 05/23/13 During a recent trip to our property on Admiralty Island, we floated down a nearby stream in our Zodiac and watched the brown bear in this photo feed on sedges and grasses for about 45 minutes. The photo was taken in late afternoon.
Photo courtesy of Jerry Reinwand / ADN reader submission
Location: United States, May 2013 Who me?? Alaska Wildlife Preserve (Turnagain Arm)
Photo courtesy of Ralph LaForge / ADN reader submission
Location: Outside of Anchorage on Kenai Penninsula, May23, 2013 "The Smiling Bear". Shot with my Canon Power Shot SX260 HS with 20x optical zoom. This particular photo looks to have been "photo shopped" but the bear merely seemed to smile for his photo. I did not edit the photo.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Carey / ADN reader submission
Location: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, 07/15/13
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Melesciuc / ADN reader submission
Location: United States Kenai Alaska, 07/06/2013 Russian River Ferry campsite-Kenai Alaska
Photo courtesy of Charlotte Torrence / ADN reader submission
Location: Kenai, 06/08/2013
Photo courtesy of Linda C / ADN reader submission
Location: Our bedroom window/ Lake Otis-O'Malley, 5/25/13 3 black bear cubs hanging out in our backyard.
Photo courtesy of John Nasholm / ADN reader submission
Location: Denali park, 09/16/2013
Photo courtesy of Robert Trejo / ADN reader submission
Location: denali park, 06/18/11 We were on a bus tour and the bears were walking towards the bus and passed in front.
Photo courtesy of michael anthony / ADN reader submission
Location: Cooper Landing , 7/20/13 "Little Bear", smaller than the one we saw in front of the cabin last week just walked by our living room window while we were having lunch. Other than pulling the cover off the barbeque, it didn't get into anything else. Hopefully it will head down to the Kenai River soon when the salmon arrive to spawn. Cooper Landing, 7-20-13.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Flothe / ADN reader submission
Location: South Anchorage - Dearmoun, Summer 2012
Photo courtesy of Nathan / ADN reader submission
Location: Our home on K-beach road, Soldotna , 06/23/13
Photo courtesy of Brianna Turkington / ADN reader submission
Location: Our bedroom window, 5/25/13
Photo courtesy of John Nasholm / ADN reader submission
Location: Denali Park, 09/16/2013
Photo courtesy of Robert Trejo / ADN reader submission
Location: Denali NP Alaska, 05/31/13
Photo courtesy of Susanne Moeller / ADN reader submission
Location: Valdez, Alaska, 7/19/13 We call them Brown Bears on the coast and Grizzlies in the interior of Alaska. It was an unbelievable sight; one cub,the runt, was on a small cliff crying, you could hear the mother growling in the bushes, then the bushes started to move and out on the edge of the cliff pops 1,2,3 cubs and then mom appears looking for the runt it was astonishing.
Photo courtesy of KarenStewart / ADN reader submission
Location: South Anchorage - Dearmoun, Summer 2012
Photo courtesy of Nathan / ADN reader submission
Location: Potter Valley, June 26, 2013 This persistent little guy thoroughly explored 3 neighbors homes yesterday, peeking in windows, checking out garages, smelling the flowers and tramping through the lawn and bushes. He finished the tour with a play of neighbor 3's windchimes before moving on.
Photo courtesy of Jodi / ADN reader submission
Location: Lake Otis and O'Malley, 5/25/13
Photo courtesy of John Nasholm / ADN reader submission
Location: Russian River, Sept 12,2013
Photo courtesy of Zane Giles / ADN reader submission
Location: Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage, 9-10-13 Hugo, the (girl) grizzly bear
Photo courtesy of J. Roese / ADN reader submission
Location: Haines Alaska, 06/05/13
Photo courtesy of Susanne Moeller / ADN reader submission
Location: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, 06/24/2013 Grizzlly bear at play.
Photo courtesy of Pavel Benedela / ADN reader submission
Location: United States Kenai Alaska, 07/06/2013 camping at the Russian River Ferry campsite in Kenai Alaska
Photo courtesy of Charlotte Torrence / ADN reader submission
Location: Big River Lake, 06/24/13
Photo courtesy of cheryl eastwood / ADN reader submission
Location: Our bedroom window, 5/25/13
Photo courtesy of John Nasholm / ADN reader submission
Location: Peck Avenue Anchorage, AK, 5/25/13 I took this photo from inside of my apartment building last summer. A black bear stopped to smell my flowers and grab a bite to eat!
Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Echak / ADN reader submission
Location: Valdez, 09/05/2013
Photo courtesy of Callie Michaud / ADN reader submission
Location: Hole 1 Moose Run Creek Course, August 27, 2013 Jane Shaw discovered that there are more obstacles to a good golf score than the course Tuesday as she finished hole 1 and attempted to advance to hole 2! Feel free to publish.
Photo courtesy of Terry McAngus / ADN reader submission
Location: Brooks Camp, Katmai NP, Alaska, July 11, 2013 Flew out by float plane with Rust's Flying service to view bears searching for salmon in the river. First trip to Alaska from Florida. What an experience!
Photo courtesy of Kaern Creighton / ADN reader submission
Location: South Anchorage - Dearmoun, Summer 2012
Photo courtesy of Nathan / ADN reader submission
Brown bears walk along the Lowe River about 5 miles from Valdez on June 1, 2013. Photo by Robert Benda
Robert Benda
Location: bicentennial park, 4/22/13 Sow with 2 cubs
Photo courtesy of Dale Boothroyd / ADN reader submission
Location: Katmai National Park, Late August 2013 Bear sighting trip to Katmai National Park, flying from Homer late August 2013
Photo courtesy of Randi J. Boldevin / ADN reader submission
Location: Outside of Anchorage on Kenai Penninsula, May 23, 2013 Shot with my Canon Power Shot SX260 HS with a 20x optical zoom.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Carey / ADN reader submission
Location: Talkeetna, 08/25/2013 Black bears watching us watching them.
Photo courtesy of SPLowe / ADN reader submission
Location: Valdez, AK, 07/05/2013
Photo courtesy of kassi hill / ADN reader submission
Location: Russian River , 08/24/2012
Photo courtesy of Evgeny Shabalin / ADN reader submission
Location: Anchorage - Potter Creek Subdivision, 6-23-13 Gardening Partner
Photo courtesy of Lisa JM Roberts / ADN reader submission
Location: Denali, 09/10/2012 Grizzly Bear mile 72 Denali park road
Photo courtesy of Mike a. Dyas / ADN reader submission
Location: june -13, Katmai Nat.Park Isn´t she beautiful?
Photo courtesy of Calle Fahlquist / ADN reader submission
Location: Outside of Anchorage on Kenai Penninsula, May23, 2013 "The Smiling Bear". Shot with my Canon Power Shot SX260 HS with 20x optical zoom. This particular photo looks to have been "photo shopped" but the bear merely seemed to smile for his photo. I did not edit the photo.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Carey / ADN reader submission
Location: northern Admiralty Island, 08/25/13 This photo shows a brown bear about to enter a stream on northern Admiralty island to "fish" for pink salmon that were in stream, heading up to the salmon's spawning grounds.
Photo courtesy of Jerry Reinwand / ADN reader submission
Location: Valdez, AK, 08/2012
Photo courtesy of kassi hill / ADN reader submission
Location: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, 07/07/13
Photo courtesy of Nicholas Money / ADN reader submission
Location: Anchorage, 06/22/13 Picture taken on Dearmoun Road.
Photo courtesy of Heather Stewman / ADN reader submission
Location: United States, March 16, 2013 Bears resting near whale carcass, eagle hoping for share of food
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Odell / ADN reader submission
Location: IHOP at Tikahtnu Commons, Anchorage, 10/19/13 This black bear easily scaled the dumpster enclosure and found a gallon sized container in the dumpster that he left with. It Returned shortly after and was scared off by police car/ lights and siren.
Photo courtesy of Travis Schaffan / ADN reader submission

A man hiking on a popular Turnagain Arm trail near the Seward Highway killed a charging brown bear with a semi-automatic AK-74 rifle Sunday, prompting Chugach State Park rangers to close a section of the trail. 

The hiker, who has not been identified by Alaska State Troopers, had set out from the Rainbow trail head at Milepost 108 of the highway Sunday morning, said Tom Crockett, a park ranger. He was near the first Turnagain Arm viewpoint, about a half-mile up the trail toward McHugh Creek, when he spotted the bear. It was on the edge of a birch and spruce forest with abundant blueberries and serviceberries.

“The bear presented its rear end to him,” Crockett said. 

The man called, “Hey, bear,” hoping not to startle the animal, he said. 

The bear turned and charged, the hiker later told rangers. 

The man fired the AK-74 he was carrying, Crockett said. The bear stopped after the first volley of shots, and then charged again.

The man fired once more, Crockett said. 

That time the bear folded into a ball, rolling and running downhill and thudding to a stop in a clump of birch trees about 100 yards from the trail. 

“There it expired,” Crockett said. 

The man called 911 and asked for help. 

Crockett and an Alaska State Trooper who responded found the man in the same spot on the trail where he encountered the bear. He wasn’t willing to walk out alone. 

“He told me he’s never been so scared in his life,” he said. 

Crockett estimated the bear weighed 500 to 600 pounds. The animal bore marks of an eventful life: He had a “big hulking” scar running over the top of his head, likely from a tussle with another bear. 

“It was sad to see him go because he was a beautiful specimen,” he said. 

It’s not unusual for people recreating in the Chugach to arm themselves with guns for bear encounters, Crockett said. But the gun used in Sunday’s encounter isn’t a typical choice for bear defense. 

The AK-74 rifle is an updated version of its cousin, the better-known AK-47 assault weapon. It fires a smaller caliber round than the AK-47 and remains popular in the countries of the former Soviet Union, where it was produced in the 1970s. 

“Most people carry something larger caliber,” he said. 

It’s legal to carry a gun in Chugach State Park, but guns can only be discharged in defense of life and property or legal hunting.  

Crockett says he believes Sunday’s incident met the defense criteria. 

The bear’s head and hide were removed and turned in to Alaska Department of Fish and Game for sealing and confiscation, said area wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane. That’s legally required in incidents of defense of life and property. 

The rest of the carcass is still at the spot where the bear was killed, Crockett said. It would have been impractical to remove because of the terrain. 

“It’s a heck of a lot of bear to haul out,” he said. 

Crockett said he has been fielding calls from residents of Rainbow Valley, who heard the semi-automatic gunfire coming from the trail. Some have raised concerns about the carcass remaining near the trail. Bears protecting a food cache like the carcass can be especially defensive and dangerous. 

Bear sightings are reported each summer all over the Turnagain Arm trail. 

Crockett said he’d heard a report of a sow and cubs a few miles away on a section of the trail near Windy Corner Monday.  

People should hike in groups, make noise and be aware of their surroundings, Coltrane said. “Surprising a bear is usually the worst thing you can do.” 

Bear spray can be an effective deterrent. 

This is the second time a brown bear has been killed in defense of life and property in the Anchorage area this summer, Coltrane said. A brown bear was killed in Chugiak earlier. 

The trail remained closed Monday afternoon. A yellow sign warning of hikers of the presence of a bear carcass was posted near the trail head.

The carcass near the trail will attract other bears, Crockett said. 

“This guy is going to get recycled by nature,” he said. 

People should stay away. 

“My fingers are going to be crossed that a trail runner doesn’t just blow through the warning signs, thinking, 'Oh, it’ll be OK this time,’ ” he said. 

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

 


By MICHELLE THERIAULT BOOTS
mtheriault@adn.com