2 campgrounds in Portage Valley close to some users after bear attacks tent campers

Two U.S. Forest Service campgrounds in the Portage Valley will be closed to some users until the end of the month after a black bear attack involving two people sleeping in a tent last week.

The bear ripped into the tent at a campsite in the Williwaw Campground early Friday morning, injuring a woman, authorities said.

The woman and a man woke up around 2:30 a.m. to a bear biting and scratching at their tent, said Cyndi Wardlow, a regional supervisor for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The bear caused injuries to the woman’s face and she was treated at a hospital, said Brandon Raile, a spokesman for the Chugach National Forest. The injuries were not life threatening, he said.

The bear left the area shortly after it injured the woman, Wardlow said.

The Forest Service closed the Black Bear and Williwaw campgrounds Friday to soft-sided campers and tents until June 28.

There was no food or other items that usually attract bears inside the tent and it’s not clear what prompted the rare encounter, Wardlow said. “These folks who were involved did everything right and this is just a very unusual situation where that bear still tried to get into their tent, even without there being any attractant involved.”

Officials with the Department of Fish and Game collected samples from the tent and confirmed that a single male black bear had been involved, Wardlow said. They are monitoring the area with Alaska Wildlife Troopers, police and the Forest Service for reports of unusual bear activity, she said. The bear had not been located as of Tuesday afternoon.

There hadn’t been any reports about concerning bear behavior in the area prior to Friday’s encounter, Wardlow said. She encouraged anyone who encounters a bear behaving unusually to report it to Fish and Game online or by calling their local office.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.