DNA shows Eagle River bears shot after maulings were not to blame

Three bears shot and killed in Eagle River in the wake of two maulings, including one that was fatal, are not the bears responsible for the attacks, according to the Department of Fish and Game.

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That’s because DNA from the bears that were shot did not match DNA evidence at the scene of the June maulings near the end of Hiland Road, said Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh.

The bear blamed for the maulings remains on the loose, Marsh said.

Marsh said it was a sow brown bear that had attacked and killed 44-year-old Michael Soltis, who lived in the area and was out for a hike. Soltis was reported missing, and police said the bear was apparently guarding his body when it attacked another man two days later who was a member of a search party looking for Soltis. That victim survived, and efforts to trap or find the bear have been ongoing since then.

Marsh said department personnel shot a sow bear and two yearling cubs on Friday near where Soltis’s body had been discovered roughly three weeks after the attacks.

Fish and Game announced Thursday that DNA tests showed the sow bear and cubs that were shot did not attack either of the men.