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Section Of Park Closed Following Bear Mauling

Gates Of The Arctic National Park and Preserve

National Park News

The park has announced the closure to visitor use of an area west of Anaktuvuk Pass after a woman was mauled by a grizzly bear at her campsite in the Okokmilaga River drainage. The woman, whose identity is not being released until she has receives medical attention and family members are notified, was attacked at about 6:30 a.m. on Thursday morning by a lone adolescent bear. The incident was reported by other members of the seven-person group. Her injuries are significant but not life-threatening according to medics who tended to her in Coldfoot, where she was first flown by Coyote Air yesterday morning. She was transferred this afternoon to Fairbanks for additional medical care. The closure was ordered by the superintendent and applies to National Park Service lands. A map of the closed area is posted on the park’s web site, www.nps.gov/gaar, under the “Management” link; it is also available from park offices in Fairbanks, Bettles and Anaktuvuk Pass. Park rangers and an Alaska state trooper were told that the incident began when a bear breached the group’s food tent and destroyed one or more water jugs. Food was in barrels and was not reached by the bear. The bear then moved to the victim’s tent. Other group members heard the incident in progress and chased the bear off with a mix of bear spray and noise. No firearm was used. Additional interviews are expected to take place with group members, and when possible, with the victim. The Okokmilaga is a very sparsely used and the closure is not expected to displace other visitors. Bear-human incidents are very rare in Gates of the Arctic. An area along the Alatna River was closed three years ago due to an aggressive black bear threatening people along the river. A bear attack in 1996 near the Noatak River was the park’s only bear fatality.



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