Grizzly Bear Kills Denali Hiker; Attack Recalls 'Grizzly Man' Documentary

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Grizzly Bear
A grizzly bear attacked and killed a hiker in Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve on Friday, according to the National Park Service. It is the first known such instance in the park's history, although the situation is reminiscent of Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man" documentary.

A grizzly bear attacked and killed a hiker in Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve Friday, according to the National Park Service, or NPS.

"This incident is the first known bear-mauling fatality recorded in Denali, the NPS said in a statement Sunday.

The victim -- Richard White, 49, of San Diego -- may have been killed because he ventured too close to the bear, park Superintendent Paul Anderson indicated in an article appearing in the Los Angeles Times.

The Anchorage Daily News reported White was in an area of the park with no trails and suggested he may have ignored important parts of the mandatory "Bear Aware" training given by park rangers before his entrance into Denali. White was backpacking along the Toklat River, an area where about a dozen grizzly bears are frequently seen, according to wildlife biologists cited by the Daily News.

When park officials examined the victim's camera, they determined he had been taking photographs in proximity to the animal for at least eight minutes, standing as close as 50 yards away. The photos reportedly show a grizzly bear grazing rather than acting aggressively, although hikers are told to stay at least one-quarter of a mile away from the bears.

Three hikers reported finding an abandoned backpack and evidence of a violent struggle to park officials on Friday, according to the NPS.

When park rangers found the victim's body, the bear was still lurking nearby. It was subsequently shot and killed by park staffers who arrived via a helicopter.

The Anchorage Daily News reported the victim's body had been dragged out of a clearing and into brush, between 100 and 150 yards away from where White was attacked.

It was the first fatal bear attack on a human in Alaska in seven years, when another grizzly bear attacked a couple while they were in sleeping bags inside a tent in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Before that grizzly attack, Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed by bears in Alaska in 2003. Treadwell gained notoriety after the 2005 documentary "Grizzly Man" came out. It showed video footage he shot of himself touching massive grizzlies and naming them. Treadwell spent 13 summers living almost alone among the bears.

He and Huguenard were killed after they set up their campsite near a salmon stream, a known feeding ground for bears. When park rangers discovered the scene after the attack, the bodies were also a distance away from the attack site. An audio tape with the recording of the attack was found in the area.

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