Woman charged by grizzly in Eagle River

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) A woman taking a morning run in Eagle River barely escaped a grizzly bear that charged her.

Karen Kirk was saved at the last moment Wednesday by a truck driver who beeped his horn and revved the engine, scaring the grizzly away.

Kirk, 37, was running along Eagle River Road shortly before 10 a.m., focusing on her run when she heard a swishing noise behind her at Mile 6.6.

Behind her, a small bear with marbled light-brown fur was running ''like a bat out of hell'' down a wooded embankment on the opposite side of the road. It was heading toward her.

Kirk stepped over a guard rail and ran behind some trees too slim to climb, hoping the bear would run past.

But the animal stopped in front of her patch of trees and put its paw on the guard rail five feet away.

Just as it was about to clamber over and as Kirk was wondering what it would feel like to get ''popped,'' she heard furious honking on the road. A truck roared around the bend, its driver blaring his horn and revving the engine. The noise frightened the bear back into the woods.

''Talk about serendipity,'' Kirk said.

The truck driver gave her a ride home.

Rick Sinnott, a biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game, said it was possible the bear was going to attack. A brown bear had been reported by other residents in that area at about 9 a.m. and again at about 11 a.m.

Sinnott figures it might be a young brown bear searching for a quick meal of moose.

''Both times it sounds like the cow and calves were in the road,'' Sinnott told the Anchorage Daily News. ''And the bear came out into the road after them. It certainly wasn't shy.''

He visited the area later Wednesday and didn't find any sign of a fresh kill. He planned to monitor the bear reports.

If the bear returns and turns out to be a youngster chasing moose and bothering people, Sinnott said he might try to dart it and move it to a remote area. If it's an older bear that has become too bold around people, he'd be more likely to kill it.

Black and brown bears have been roaming Anchorage woods and foothills over the past few weeks, with state biologists receiving between five and 10 calls per day, Sinnott said. On Tuesday, a family picking mushrooms near Chugiak was alarmed when a black bear seemed to follow the kids, he said.

Cranky moose that just gave birth also pose a threat to people who come too close. A cow with two new calves kicked a woman cyclist and broke her wrist last week in Hillside Park.

With lots of ''large, dangerous animals'' pursuing their own agendas, people ought to be careful, Sinnott said. ''Actually the moose are more dangerous right now than the bears are.''

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