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Bears keep bullying hikers in Interior

Posted: August 11, 2012 - 8:50pm

FAIRBANKS (AP) — Rangers have been ordered to kill a pair of grizzly bears if they find the duo displaying the same type of behavior they have been exhibiting toward hikers on a popular trail in the Chena River State Recreation Area.

“If they come up and challenge them, I told them to go ahead and (kill) them,” Brooks Ludwig, northern region superintendent for Alaska State Parks, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner ( ).  

“They’ve got a long rap sheet now,” he added.  “If they have no fear of you and come right up and get in your face ... we can’t have that,” he said.

The bears approached hikers twice last week on the 15-mile trail that’s about 40 miles east of Fairbanks. 

One hiker fired two shots from a handgun to keep the bears at bay. The bears, however, followed him along the trail until eventually backing off. 

In the other incident, a woman told park workers the bears got close enough that she could have sprayed them with a can of bear spray. She decided against using the spray because she was concerned she didn’t have enough for both bears.  The woman managed to hike out unscathed.

The bears are almost certainly the same pair that stalked a 43-year-old professor and her two nieces on July 12, Ludwig said. One of the bears repeatedly bluff charged the group, and the professor fended off the animal by hitting it in the head with a walking stick and insect repellent. She also threw everything she had at the bear, including a package of macaroni and cheese.

That was the last anyone had seen of the bears until the recent encounters. 

Ludwig said the bears are probably staying in an area near the top of the trail, enjoying the fruits of a good berry crop.

State parks rangers Ian Thomas and Nikki Potter have put up signs warning hikers about the presence of bears on the trail. One of them will hike the trail on Sunday to interview hikers.

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