Moose hunter from Texas mauled by bear on Kenai Peninsula

A Texas man was taken to a hospital with serious injuries Tuesday night after he was mauled by a bear during a Kenai Peninsula moose hunt.

Alaska State Troopers said in a Wednesday dispatch that the mauling of 47-year-old Plano resident Gregory Joseph Matthews was first reported at about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday. The attack occurred near Doroshin Bay, at the north end of Skilak Lake in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

"It was reported that (Matthews) was attacked by a brown bear with cubs while moose hunting," troopers wrote. "Matthews suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries."

A LifeMed air ambulance flew Matthews to Central Peninsula Hospital, where staff reported that he was in good condition late Wednesday morning.

Ken Marsh, a spokesman with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said Wednesday that Matthews had been hunting with his brother, Roger Matthews. At the time of the attack, the two were about 40 yards apart making moose calls. Gregory fired on the bear during the mauling, but it wasn't clear whether he hit it.

"Early reports indicate that when Greg was attacked, Roger went to his aid," Marsh wrote in an email. "At that point, the bear started toward Roger and Roger fired at the animal twice with a .300 Winchester Magnum rifle. Roger believes he struck the bear both times."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as Fish and Game, sent personnel to Skilak Lake in an attempt to find the bear that attacked Matthews, but Marsh said that the bear wasn't spotted Tuesday night. Roger Matthews, Fish and Game's Kenai-area biologist Jeff Selinger, and Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officer Chris Johnson were in the field looking for the bear Wednesday.


"They're going to check to see if the bear was wounded," Marsh said. "If it's mortally wounded and they were able to find it, they'd euthanize it."

Marsh said that state officials hadn't yet determined whether the attack was a defensive act on the bear's part, or a "predacious" attack by a bear acclimatized to humans. While the former category of bears are generally left alone, biologists place a higher priority on finding and killing predacious animals.

"It's too early to tell," Marsh said. "We'll have to wait until they get back from investigating the scene."

The mauling was the second on the Kenai Peninsula in two weeks. Soldotna resident Danny High was attacked Sept. 13 while walking in woods with his dog near Mile 11 of Funny River Road. High, 62, was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries, but state officials ultimately decided not to seek out the bear that mauled him.

Marsh said Wednesday that there is "no indication" that the Funny River Road attack is related to Tuesday's mauling, with the two sites separated by Skilak Lake as well as about 25 miles of distance.

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.