Wildlife

Alaska officials will spare bear involved in weekend mauling

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has "no plans" to euthanize a Kenai Peninsula bear that mauled a 62-year-old man over the weekend, as the attack appears to not be predatory in nature, a department spokesperson said.

Funny River man Danny High was walking his dog near Mile 11 of Funny River Road, east of Soldotna, when the bear attacked Sunday evening.

"The bear was surprised," Fish and Game spokesperson Cathie Harms said. "The human was surprised. There was a dog there. We don't know if the dog played a role. Dogs do one of two things: It can drive a bear away or it can annoy the bear and bring it back. We don't know ... but the fact a dog was with him puts it into question."

After the attack, High called 911 and reported the incident himself.

High was in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment of serious injuries, the Associated Press reported Monday. Neither Harms or Alaska State Trooper spokesperson Megan Peters had an update on High's condition Tuesday afternoon.

A Fish and Game biologist spent four hours in the area of the attack Monday, but never found evidence of a predatory attack or saw a bear, Harms said. She added that there are "a couple" of known bears in the area, according to information provided to the agency by locals.

"We have no way of identifying what bear it was though," Harms said.

Fish and Game believes Sunday's mauling was an isolated attack and the bear doesn't appear to be a further threat to humans. If it was, Harms said, the bear's fate would be much more grim.

"If it was likely to present continued dangers to people, in a predacious attack, we would not hesitate to euthanize," Harms said. "In the case of a defensive attack -- just a bear needs to quickly eliminate the threat and leave -- it does not increase danger to people."

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