Grizzly mauls rafter making camp along Copper River

A rafter on the Copper River was mauled by a grizzly bear when he surprised a sow and cub while making camp Friday evening, the Alaska State Troopers and wildlife authorities said Tuesday.

Two people were on a raft trip from McCarthy to Cordova when they stopped at Taral Creek, which feeds into the Copper River about 4 miles south of Chitina, said troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain.

"They stopped at Taral Creek to make camp for the night and they encountered a sow grizzly with at least one cub," he said.

The sow attacked one of the rafters, biting him "multiple times."

A fishing charter boat in the area took the mauled rafter to the road-connected O'Brien Creek area south of Chitina, where an ambulance was able to pick him up, DeSpain said. The man was flown to Anchorage for medical attention.

Troopers have not released his name or where he's from.

His injuries "appeared to be non-life-threatening," DeSpain said.


A Glennallen wildlife trooper also responded, DeSpain said.

Ken Marsh of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said biologists were still gathering information about the incident but the bear's behavior didn't sound out of the ordinary.

"When you surprise a sow with a cub, they get protective," Marsh said.

The mauling came less than one week after a brown bear killed a 44-year-old hiker on a trail at the end of Hiland Road. Biologists are still looking for that bear.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.