A Chitina man was mauled by what officials believe was a brown bear Tuesday morning near Glennallen, Alaska State Troopers said.
Allen Dewitt Minish, 61, was conducting a land survey in a wooded area near Mile 117 of the Richardson Highway when he was attacked, troopers wrote in an online statement.
Minish had been walking alone while he worked, said Heidi Hatcher, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game.
“He wasn’t making any extra noise or anything like that, he was just walking through the woods, kind of focused on his work,” she said. “And essentially what happened was they ran into each other, they spooked each other.”
Minish noticed the bear from about 30 feet away, but the bear charged him because it was startled and felt threatened, Hatcher said. Minish later described the bear to biologists as appearing to be a sub-adult brown bear, Hatcher said. The bear was on the smaller side, somewhere around 4 years old, Hatcher said.
The bear retreated after the attack, and Minish called 911 just before 11:30 a.m. Troopers and a local rescue team located him around 1:15 p.m. and began administering first aid, Hatcher said. He was in a swampy area about a half-mile from the highway, Hatcher said.
First responders helped Minish to the trans-Alaska pipeline road, where he was picked up by a helicopter and flown to an Anchorage hospital, Hatcher said. Minish had puncture wounds and lacerations on his head, troopers said.
The bear was not located on Tuesday, but Hatcher said it is not considered to be dangerous. There was no evidence that the bear was protecting a food source in the area; it was acting defensively because it felt threatened, she said.
“There’s no reason to believe that there’s a public safety threat. It was just a bear being a bear,” she said.
Minish did not have bear spray or other deterrent with him during the attack, Hatcher said.
“It is very unfortunate,” she said. “It’s just a really good reminder to all of us about the importance of bear safety and being bear aware in bear country. Even if you’re only a few miles from town or less than a mile from the highway, you can run into a bear just about anywhere and you just don’t want to spook them.”
Hatcher said it was the first mauling in the area this year. Two men were killed by bears in Alaska in 2020. A man in Hope on the Kenai Peninsula was clearing a trail near his property in late July when he was fatally attacked by what biologists believe was a lone brown bear. A hunter was killed by a grizzly in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve while he was field-dressing a moose in September.