For the first time in its 95 year history, Denali National Park had a hiker fatally mauled by a bear on Friday. A San Diego man solo hiking near the Toklat River was killed by a large male grizzly. It seems that the hiker had been taking photos of the bear over a period of 8 minutes with the bear getting closer in each. The pictures show no aggressive behavior on the part of the bear, but that obviously changed.
The grizzly was shot by park rangers on Saturday as it protected the kill site, and a necropsy confirmed that it was the guilty bear. Or, at least it confirmed that this bear had partaken in the hiker. A dozen grizzlies have been roaming this area of the Toklat all summer. The area has now been closed to hiking.
Over the 8 minute time span that the backpacker was taking photos of the 600 pound grizzly, the bear closed from 50 yards to possibly 50 feet. There were 26 pictures taken of the bear, the bear does not appear to know of the hiker’s presence until the final five, when the bear is looking directly into the camera and moving towards the hiker. At one point, it seems that the hiker may have moved his position to get a better angle of the bear. It is hard to say what set off the bear, whether the hiker ran when his presence became known to the bear, or if this was just an aggressive male grizzly that showed its predator nature.