Katmai visitor has minor injuries after ‘swatted’ by bear

A wide waterfall with bears hunting salmon
Bears at Brooks Falls at the Katmai National Park and Preserve. (Photo by Katmai National Park and Preserve)

A bear swatted and injured a visitor at the Katmai National Park and Preserve on Wednesday afternoon, according to a statement from park officials on Friday.

It’s the first time a bear has made physical contact with one of the park’s visitors since 2018. Katmai is a famous and remote bear-viewing park on the Alaska Peninsula.

The park’s statement says the visitor was part of a small guided group: Just him, another visitor and a guide.

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The group was boating, and stopped on an island in a remote part of the park to sightsee and eat.

“The guide and one of the visitors walked about 50 yards down river while the second visitor stayed at the boat to take pictures,” the statement said. “As that was happening, a bear swam across the river to the island where the boat was beached.”

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The visitor taking photos notified the others of the bear.

“The bear was acting aggressively so all three people attempted to haze the bear away by making themselves appear larger and yelling,” said the statement. “The bear’s attention was diverted away from the photographer, but the visitor with the guide was swatted and knocked backwards into the river.”

The guide used bear spray and the bear left.

The visitor had injuries to his forearm and was treated by rangers. The injuries were minor, according to the park.

Park officials say the incident happened near the confluence of the Savonoski and Grosvenor rivers around 1 p.m. Wednesday.

It’s the first bear-human contact at the park since 2018, when two young bears pawed at people at Katmai’s Brooks Camp. No one was harmed in those encounters, according to the park.

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Tegan Hanlon is the digital managing editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8447. Read more about Tegan here.

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