Crime & Courts

3 men charged with getting too close to bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park

U.S. prosecutors have charged three men with leaving a special viewing platform and getting too close to the famous salmon-fishing bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve.

The U.S. attorney’s office filed charges this week in the August 2018 incident. Spokeswoman Lisa Houghton said the office doesn’t discuss the timing of cases.

“Every case is unique, and it takes varying amounts of time to bring forth criminal charges,” she said by email.

The park in Southwest Alaska protects some of the highest densities of bears in the world and requires visitors to abide by special rules.

[The Katmai bear webcams are back for summer — with higher resolution and better sound]

Mature male brown bears at Katmai can weigh up to 900 pounds, the park says.

The charges allege the men entered a closed area of the park by leaving an authorized viewing area and wading into the Brooks River when bears were feeding on salmon in the nearby falls.

Charged were David Engelman, 56, of Sandia Park, New Mexico, and Ronald J. Engelman II, 54, and Steven Thomas, 30, both of King Salmon. An online court records system did not show attorneys for the men who could comment on their behalf.