Bear ‘swatted’ Katmai National Park visitor

A Katmai National Park and Preserve visitor was injured when a bear “swatted” him and knocked him backward into a river this week, park officials said.

A small group that included two park visitors and a guide had stopped on an island near the confluence of the Savoonski and Grosvenor rivers on Wednesday afternoon to eat and sightsee, the National Park Service said in a statement. While the guide and one of the visitors walked downriver, the second visitor stayed near their boat to take pictures.

The visitor who stayed behind noticed a bear that had just swum across the river to the island where the boat was beached, and he alerted the other group members, park officials said.

“The bear was acting aggressively so all three people attempted to haze the bear away by making themselves appear larger and yelling,” the Park Service said.

They drew the bear’s attention away from the visitor who had stayed by the boat, but before the guide could deploy bear spray, “the visitor with the guide was swatted and knocked backwards into the river,” park officials said.

The visitor swatted by the bear sustained minor injuries to his forearm. At that point, the guide was able to use bear spray and the bear left, according to the Park Service. Park rangers provided emergency medical care.

The incident is the first bear-to-human contact in the park since 2018, the Park Service said. That year, two young bears ”pawed” at people at Katmai’s Brooks Camp, and no one was hurt in the incidents.

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

[From 2018: ‘Unprecedented’: Man wades into Katmai bear feeding zone, takes a selfie]