Saturday, 4 May 2013

‘Deranged’ bear attacks bird-watching biologist

By Jenny Neyman

Special to the Tribune
The details of a bear attack Sunday afternoon on the Kasilof beach were about as ripe for tragedy as they come. The incident ended with officers shooting what was described as an older sow just after 5 p.m.

A bird-watching family with three of their kids, one just a baby in a backpack, unarmed and out for a walk along the shore encountered an adult sow brown bear, seemingly “deranged,” acting erratically and aggressively. It did not respond to attempts to chase it away.

Now that it's spring, bears are on the prowl. An incident at Kasilof marks the first bear attack of the season.

The family was caught in the open sand, with no cover or protection, no chance of making it back to their vehicle, no one around to help and nothing with which to defend themselves but a bird-spotting scope and tripod.

And yet, the encounter ended about as well as it possibly could, the only casualties being the tripod, one of the baby’s mittens and the bear, which was shot and killed by Alaska State Troopers.

“After it was all done, my overwhelming sentiment that I was left with was, I just felt grateful. It could have ended so many different ways and, really, no one was hurt. It never laid a paw on any of my family and I didn’t get torn up, so I just felt really grateful,” said Toby Burke, of Kenai.

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