CNN.com is reporting that Richard White, 49, from San Diego, was killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska’s Denali National Park on Saturday. White was in Alaska’s backcountry shooting photos of the bear only moments before he was attacked.
By the time rangers found White, the grizzly was still with his body. Photographs found in White’s camera show that he was watching the grizzly for at least eight minutes near a river before the attack. White had been backpacking alone for three nights before the attack.
“The bear was generally unaware that he was there until the last couple of shots, then his attention turned,” park spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin said to CNN. She also added that the photographs “are not that demonstrative” and show “nothing graphic, or any showing major signs of aggression. We’re not sure what happened after the camera was put down.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that White was standing 50 to 100 yards away from the bear that ultimately killed him. Hikers are typically advised to stay at least 300 yards away from a bear, McLaughlin told the Times.
Using the photos to identify the bear, state troopers, park rangers and wildlife biologists were on hand to shot and kill the bear as it was “defending the kill site along the Toklat River as the recover team attempted to reach White’s remains,” the park service told CNN.com. A necropsy of the bear on Saturday confirmed it was the animal that mauled and killed White after reviewing it’s stomach contents, the images on the camera and other evidence.
Authorities were alerted to the possibility of an attack when three hikers noticed an abandoned backpack, torn clothing and blood along the river. Two and a half hours after the hikers got to a rest area and alerted authorities, pank rangers conducted an aerial search and spotted at least one grizzly bear. They touched down and confirmed there was an unidentified victim’s remains.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the bear, which weighed an estimated 600 pounds, dragged White’s remains from a flat expanse along the river to a secluded brushy area 150 yards away, where it stored its food.
After initially retreating, the bear returned to the site shortly thereafter, while the rangers were investigating the scene, and forced them to flee. Denali Park authorities told CNN.com that about 12 grizzly bears have been living this summer around where Friday’s attack occurred. Although grizzly bear attacks are not common, last September a grizzly killed a hunter in northwestern Montana, and early that year, grizzly bears in Yellowstone killed two men.