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Contact: Laura Sturtz
At approximately 10:30 am on Tuesday, June 1, the National Park Service received a report of a large aggressive black bear that was threatening and had possibly injured park visitors on the Harding Icefield Trail in the Exit Glacier Area of Kenai Fjords National Park. Park rangers armed with firearms and bear spray responded to the site, while other park staff, Alaska State Troopers and Bear Creek Fire and Rescue climbed up the trail in search of the reported injured hikers.
Approximately 1.5 miles up the Harding Icefield Trail, the park’s law enforcement rangers encountered a black bear that was aggressive and refusing to give way on the trail. Rangers hazed the bear, but the animal would not leave the site. Because rangers were concerned for the safety of the possible victims, they were forced to euthanize the animal.
Park law enforcement rangers continued up the trail and found two uninjured hikers waiting to be escorted by park staff to safety. Because of the proximity to the trail and the amount of visitation, rangers removed the carcass from the area. The Park plans to donate the carcass to charity so that the meat can be salvaged.
The Harding Icefield Trail was closed temporarily during the incident but has now reopened. Hikers are reminded to use the following recommended precautions for traveling in bear country:
• Make your presence known.
• Travel in a group.
• Give bears plenty of room.
• Give bears the opportunity to avoid you. Detour around areas where you see or smell carcasses of fish or animals, or see scavengers congregated.
• Don’t attract bears with food or garbage.
• Carry bear repellent.
Kenai Fjords National Park thanks the Bear Creek Volunteer Fire Department, the Alaska State Troopers, and the Seward Volunteer Ambulance Corps in assisting with the incident response.
Last updated: June 1, 2021