Brown bear mauls bicyclist on Jack River near Cantwell

A man was mauled by a bear and injured near Cantwell this week, Alaska State Troopers said.

The man told troopers he had been riding his bike alone along the bed of the Jack River around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, troopers wrote in an online report. He was about 400 yards from Mile 215 of the Parks Highway, troopers wrote.

“He reported seeing a brown bear 10-15 yards away, running towards him,” troopers wrote. “The victim stated that he jumped off his bicycle and began yelling at the bear.”

As the bear was getting close, the man got on the ground and covered his head to protect himself, said Joelle Hepler, the assistant area wildlife biologist in Glennallen for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The man began kicking at the bear, and Hepler said the bear made contact with him, either by biting or using its claws.

The bear then quickly retreated in the direction it came from, troopers said.

The man walked to the highway to call a friend for a ride, troopers wrote. He was treated for puncture wounds and a laceration at the Healy Medical Clinic, according to troopers.

The man had noticed bear tracks in the snow earlier and believed the bear was alone when it attacked, troopers wrote. He had a gun but did not fire it.

The attack didn’t appear to be predatory, Hepler said.

“I would say that the bear was kind of triggered by the motion of the bike, that turned on its prey drive and he was curious,” she said.

Much of Southcentral Alaska saw snow early this season, but Hepler said it’s not unusual for bears to still be active this time of year. Bears generally begin hibernation in October and November.