DNA tests show brown bear killed near Hope was not responsible for fatal mauling

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says the female brown bear it killed near Hope earlier this month was not involved in the fatal mauling of 46-year-old Daniel Schilling.

That’s based on a DNA analysis of samples collected from the animal and at the scene, the agency said in a statement Monday. 

Wildlife biologists had collected DNA from both a female brown and black bear at the attack site, but said it’s unlikely both animals were present at the same time.

“Bear attacks are rare and finding the DNA of two different bear species at the site makes it even more unusual,” said the statement from Fish and Game.

Fish and Game believes a female brown bear attacked Schilling while he was clearing a brushy trail behind his cabin, and a black bear later encountered his body.

The agency set out to find the bears and killed one brown bear and three black bears in the area.

RELATED: Fish and Game kills 4 bears near Hope as it investigates fatal mauling

Samples taken from one of the black bears killed matched DNA from the scene, said Fish and Game.

Results from the other three animals did not match evidence from the site.

Fish and Game said it will continue to collect samples from brown bears harvested by hunters and those killed under defense of life and property laws to see if there’s a match.

What led to the attack is still unknown, said Cynthia Wardlow, Anchorage regional supervisor with Fish and Game. It’s unclear if it was a defensive or predatory attack, she said. Investigators did not find any signs of cubs or a food cache in the area. They did find an empty bear spray canister with the safety removed. There were no witnesses. 

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