Hikers of the popular Granite Tors trail east of Fairbanks have had multiple encounters with two brown bears in the last month, including one woman who fended off a bear by tossing a bug spray cannister at it. But now, an encounter with a different bear has forced rangers to shut the trail, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports. The bear encounter is the third in less than two weeks. This one involved a cinnamon-colored black bear that rangers contend is food conditioned.
Alaska State Parks Chief Ranger Ian Thomas told the News-Miner that the bear ripped a hole in the tent of a man, woman and 2-year-old camped near the trail on Saturday night. The bear backed off after they yelled, and the man sprayed the bear with pepper spray. The bear "just shook its head a little bit", though, and came back toward them.
The man and woman tossed large rocks at the bear, and it finally backed off. The man got a picture of the bear, which rangers identified as likely different from the bears that have harassed other hikers.
Rangers will hike the Granite Tors trail again this week to search for bears, and they may shoot any they locate. The trail will be closed for an undetermined amount of time.
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