A 55-year-old man from Indiana was attacked by a grizzly bear Monday night while he was hiking in Denali National Park just south of the Eielson Visitor Center, officials said.
The man was in stable condition Tuesday morning at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, the park service said in an online statement.
The man had been hiking alone about a mile-and-a-half east and slightly south of the Eielson Visitor Center, between Stony Dome and Thorofare Pass, when a grizzly with two cubs charged him from bushes about 100 feet away, said Paul Ollig, a spokesman for the park.
The area he was hiking is above 3,500 feet elevation and features “open tundra, with rolling landscape and large stands of willows and alders,” Ollig said. There was dense fog at the time of the attack, Ollig said. The man was able to deploy bear spray after the bear knocked him down, the park service said.
The bears left the area after the attack and the man walked to Eielson Visitor Center, where he was picked up by a park transit bus, the park service said.
Vacationing medical providers were on the bus and treated the man for puncture wounds to his calf, left ribs and left shoulder, the park service said. The bus driver called for help at 8:19 p.m., the statement said.
Park rangers transported the man out of the park by ambulance. He was transferred to a Tri-Valley medical team and brought to the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, the park service said.
The attack appeared to be defensive and the park service said there are no plans to locate the involved bear.
“Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised,” the statement said. “There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.”
The park service closed backcountry units 11 and 12 for one week as a cooling-off period, Ollig said. The area is south and east of the Eielson Visitor Center.
“Separation of bears and people following a natural defensive attack helps achieve the objective of keeping people safe and bears wild,” Ollig said.
This is the first bear attack to be reported in the park this year, according to Ollig.