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Contact: Paul Ollig, 907-683-9531
A 55-year-old man from Indiana is in stable condition this morning after a bear attack in Denali National Park and Preserve.
The visitor, who had been hiking alone when the attack took place, was treated for puncture wounds to his calf, left ribs, and left shoulder by medical providers who were traveling on a park transit bus. He was then transported via ambulance to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. At approximately 8:19 pm on August 23, 2021, park rangers received a 911 call from a park transit bus driver who had picked up an injured visitor at the Eielson Visitor Center. The man, who has not been identified, was hiking alone in the Thoroughfare Pass area of the park to the south of the Park Road when the attack took place. While hiking through dense fog, the visitor stated that a grizzly with two 1 or 2-year-old cubs nearby charged at him from bushes approximately 100 feet away. He was able to deploy bear spray, but only after the bear had knocked him down.
The bears departed quickly after the attack, and the visitor was able to walk 1.5 miles to the Eielson Visitor Center where he met a park transit bus. Medical personnel who were vacationing in the park and riding the bus administered first aid while the bus driver relayed the need for an ambulance to the bus dispatch office. The visitor was transported out of the park by park rangers via ambulance and transferred to the Tri-Valley medical team. Medics transported the visitor to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where he remains in stable condition this morning.
Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved. Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.
Park officials have closed backcountry units 11 and 12 to all backcountry travel for one week.
Last updated: August 24, 2021