Wildlife officials kill 4 bears as they investigate fatal mauling near Hope

Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials investigating last week’s fatal bear mauling near Hope killed one brown bear and three black bears, all females, near the attack area on Wednesday, the agency said in a written statement Thursday.

Daniel Schilling, 46, was killed on July 29 while clearing a trail about a mile behind his property off Mile 8 of the Hope Highway.

Fish and Game officials have collected both female brown and black bear DNA associated with the attack site and victim, according to the investigation’s preliminary results, the agency said.

“Hair collected during the initial investigation appeared to be from a brown bear,” the statement said.

The DNA was extracted from that hair and additional samples from the site, the agency said. More samples from the bears killed on Wednesday will be analyzed to determine if they match the DNA of previously collected samples, the agency said.

Game cameras indicate that at least one black bear had returned to the area, the statement said.

There were no witnesses to the attack, located in a remote, hard-to-reach area, the agency said.


“An empty bear spray canister with the safety removed was found at the location of the attack, and it appeared that bear spray had been discharged at the site,” the statement said. “No attractants, such as a dead moose or a food cache, were found in a search of the area during the investigation.”

“Our deepest sympathies go out to Mr. Schilling’s family and friends during this very sad time,” said Cyndi Wardlow, Southcentral regional supervisor at Fish and Game. “While we may never know the full circumstances, we are trying to learn everything we can about what happened to help people stay safe around wildlife in Alaska.”

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or alex@adn.com.