Biologists Shoot Four Black Bears in an Effort to Kill One That Fatally Mauled Young Racer
Alaska state biologists believe they have killed the black bear responsible for fatally mauling a 16-year-old Anchorage runner who was participating in a mountain race on Sunday, June 18, 2017.
The Anchorage Daily News reports biologists shot four bears from a helicopter in the area. They believe the fourth bear shot was the culprit, as it had a recent wound to its lower jaw, which they believe was sustained when a park ranger shot it after it refused to leave the site of Patrick "Jack" Cooper's body on Sunday.
"This is a serious situation, and we wanted to ensure we got the correct bear," said Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh. "There's already been a fatality involved with this animal. It was a risk we couldn't allow to continue."
Officials have been searching for the bear since the attack on Sunday. It is believed Cooper got off-trail while descending from the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb race turnaround point on Bird Ridge. He sent a text message to a family member saying he was being chased by a black bear.
Park rangers and biologists say the bear's behavior at the scene indicates a rare predatory attack.
After a futile ground search for the dangerous bear, biologists used aircraft to search from the sky.
Biologists shot lone adult males in the area from the aircraft and then dropped in to check to see if any of them had a previous gun-shot wound. The fourth one did.
Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said darting animals in the difficult terrain would have been impractical because bears often initially run when they are darted.
"The only real option in this situation was to shoot the animal and collect it this way," he said.
Biologists are performing a necropsy on the fourth bear to help answer questions about the bear's predatory behavior.