Alaska Department of Natural Resources tracks bear that killed Anchorage teenager

Black bear. (Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources is still searching for the black bear that killed 16-year-old Patrick Cooper on Sunday. Meanwhile, another bear attack has claimed the life of a worker and injured another in a gold mine near Delta.

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In Anchorage, Cooper encountered a bear during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on the Bird Ridge trail inside Chugach State Park.

After a search of the trail, Cooper was found pinned to the ground by a black bear. The bear ran away after a park ranger shot it.

According to Ken Marsh of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the last fatal bear mauling in the Anchorage area occurred in 1995.

“In this situation, this is a very, very rare occurrence,” Marsh said. “This appears to be a predatory attack. This is a situation where a bear may not have been surprised, where in fact a bear actually targeted an individual.”

Two Fish and Game officers and one park ranger tracked the bear into Monday afternoon. After an initial ground search, trackers found traces of blood from the bear and believe it has moved deeper into the mountains. Marsh said, if the bear is found alive it will be put down.

Matt Wedeking from Alaska State Parks said investigators are just trying to gather information at this point. He said if the Department of Fish and Game is able to recover the bear carcass, it will perform a necropsy to determine if there was anything wrong with the bear. Wedeking reminded Alaskans to stay safe on the trails.

“Travel in groups, make a lot of noise, carry bear spray or an air horn,” Wedeking said. “Bear incidents happen everywhere in Chugach State Park and any of the state parks, so be aware and plan for it.”

Wedeking said the Bird Ridge trail can reopen if the bear is found.

Another fatal bear attack happened early Monday, June 19 at the Pogo mine, 38 miles from Delta Junction. Employees were taking geological samples several miles from camp when the bear attacked. The bear was shot and killed after Alaska Wildlife Troopers directed the mine to have it “dispatched.”

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