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Bear cubs still in area of den

Posted: Sunday, March 21, 2004

Seismic workers have reported seeing signs that two yearling brown bear cubs have returned to their den near Ninilchik, the site of a bear mauling that injured a Soldotna man Tuesday morning.

"There are signs that they've returned, but we haven't had any sightings," said Henry Biggart, project manager of Veritas DGC, the seismography company that contracted with Chuck Brady, the man injured in the attack.

Biggart said a company helicopter is flying high over the den area whenever it is nearby, in hopes of spotting the cubs so the state Department of Fish and Game can be summoned to come and tag the animals.

Brady, 53, was working as a bear guard for the seismic company when crew members reported seeing suspected bear movement in and out of a den.

The guard went to investigate, confirmed the presence of the bear den and instructed the crew to leave the area.

A brown bear sow then suddenly charged Brady, who was able to get off a single shot with a .12-gauge shotgun slug, mortally wounding the bear, but not before Brady himself was mauled.

Workers were able to get the injured Brady to safety and he was flown to Ninilchik. An ambulance then took him to Central Peninsula General Hospital.

Brady was treated for lacerations to his lower leg, buttocks and the back of his shoulder and was released from the hospital Thursday.

"He's doing pretty good," Biggart said Friday.

"He came out here yesterday to let us know he was all right and to talk at our safety training meeting and make everybody aware that there are bear dens in the area," Biggart said.

A bear guard supervisor and another guard tracked the sow Brady wounded on Tuesday and killed it. The two cubs reportedly fled in a different direction.

According to Jeff Selinger, Kenai area wildlife biologist for the Department of Fish and Game, the yearlings were tracked for some time from the air, but to no avail.

Eventually Selinger hopes to tag the cubs to help determine their long-term fate.

"They are old enough to feed on something like a moose carcass or grasses," Selinger said.

"We have some anecdotal evidence of yearlings surviving without the sow, but we would like to gather more information on bears on the (Kenai) Peninsula," he said. "Keeping track of these could at least give us a sample of two."

He said the bear killed Tuesday will count as one animal and as one female, toward the numbers of human-caused deaths that determine whether a brown bear hunting season will be open this fall.

Selinger said human-caused bear deaths during the year only can total 20 animals, and only eight can be females, or no hunting will be allowed.

Biggart said a company goal of Veritas is not to bother any animals.

"Now as it's getting a little warmer, bears are starting to wake up a little, so everyone needs to be aware," he said.

Biggart said the company expects to complete its seismic work in the Ninilchik area by April 1.



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