Man mauled at Russian River campground

Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) A brown bear sow mauled a man early Tuesday morning at the Russian River Campground on the Kenai Peninsula.

Dan Bigley, 25, was reported in critical condition at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage Tuesday afternoon.

Doug Stockdale, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, said Bigley's address was listed as Girdwood but that he may be a seasonal worker there.

A sow with two or three cubs charged several people near the stairs of the popular camping area at around 12:30 a.m., Stockdale said.

Bigley was reportedly with two companions, according to Alaska State Troopers. All three tried to avoid the bear, which charged them and grabbed Bigley from behind.

Witnesses said several brown bears with cubs as well as a black bear also were spotted nearby.

Bigley was flown to Anchorage and arrived at about 3:20 a.m.

Campers were encouraged to stay in their vehicles until daylight.

The Forest Service and state troopers discouraged fishing on the river until daylight. They also posted warning signs at the campground, trailheads and the ferry that crosses the Kenai River just below the Russian River.

Stockdale said Forest Service officers spent Tuesday trying to determine what brought on the attack. While bears are common in this section of the peninsula, attacks on people are rare, he said.

Another bear had been shot and killed in the vicinity last week, but the carcass ended up in a spot where it couldn't be recovered, Stockdale said. Officers were looking at the possibility that the smell of the carcass may have attracted other bears to the area.

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