Man killed by bear while clearing trail near Hope

An Alaska State Trooper cruiser. (Matthew F. Smith/KNOM)

A man was killed by a bear Wednesday night near the Turnagain Arm community of Hope, according to Alaska State Troopers. 

It’s believed the attack happened while he was clearing a path behind his cabin off Mile 8 of the Hope Highway. Troopers got report of the mauling around 10 p.m.

“His wife became concerned when he was overdue, and their dog, which had been with him, returned home alone,” troopers said in an online report.

Family and friends later found his body. Troopers said he had wounds consistent with a bear mauling. 

Fur found in the area indicates it was likely a brown bear that attacked him, said Cyndi Wardlow, Alaska Department of Fish and Game regional supervisor.

“Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of the victim,” she said. “This is an unfortunate tragedy.”

Troopers have not yet identified the man publicly. Wardlow said she did not have details Thursday about what may have prompted the attack.

“We’re not going to likely ever know the full story,” she said.

No one witnessed the attack, said Clay Adam, with Cooper Landing Emergency Services, one of the agencies that responded to the mauling report late Wednesday.

Adam said the man was working on a small trail in a remote, brushy area up a mountain behind his cabin. The scene of the mauling was about an hour’s hike from the property.

“Apparently he didn’t return last evening for dinner and his wife hiked up and then couldn’t find him and then solicited the help of a friend,” Adam said. “They both hiked back up, and that’s when they discovered the victim.”

On Thursday, troopers and wildlife biologists were recovering the man’s body, searching for the bear and collecting samples.

“Please respect this victim and their family and the troopers who are hiking into this difficult, dangerous and tragic scene,” said a Facebook post from Cooper Landing Emergency Services.

By 4:30 p.m., the animal had not been found.

“We’ll continue making efforts,” Wardlow said. “We’re concerned about public safety and this is the kind of situation that we take very seriously.”

Wardlow asked anyone who encounters a bear in the area to contact the agency right away.

The U.S. Forest Service said it was posting signs warning of an aggressive bear.

This is the first fatal bear mauling in Alaska since 2018.

Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@alaskapublic.org and Abbey Collins at acollins@alaskapublic.org.