A brown bear sow attacked a man early Tuesday morning near the Russian River Campground in Cooper Landing.
Girdwood resident Dan Bigley, 25, was taken to Provi-dence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage following the incident, which happened about 12:30 a.m. He was reported to be in critical condition with wounds to his head, face and side.
Numerous brown and black bears have been reported in the area in recent days. On July 9, a brown bear sow was shot and killed by a man hiking near the river, and its cubs were later euthanized by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
According to Fish and Game area manager Jeff Selinger, several bears are still frequenting the area, and people should be extremely cautious about going near the river.
Selinger said that as of Tuesday afternoon, it was unknown exactly which of several bears was responsible for attacking Bigley.
"We don't know which one she was," Selinger said.
He said some fishers were still trying their luck at the popular Kenai Peninsula fishing destination Tuesday, although the Russian River ferry was temporarily shut down and most people had left the area.
"Most people have been very cooperative," he said.
From left, Alaska Department of Fish and Game area manager Jeff Selinger, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge park ranger Rick Johnson and Fish and Game wildlife technician Larry Lewis check the Russian River area for bears.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Signs have been posted to let people know there are bears around. Although neither the Russian nor Kenai rivers are closed to fishing today, Selinger said officials with Fish and Game, Fish and Wildlife Troopers and the U.S. Forest Service are assessing the situation to determine if further action may be needed. He said the possibility of closing the area during nighttime hours is one option managers are considering.
"There's a lot of options out there," Selinger said. "It's going to have to be taken care of."
According to reports, Bigley was returning to the Grayling parking lot at the Russian River campground with two companions when he came between the sow and her cubs. They attempted to flee from the adult bear, but it caught Bigley from behind.
The attack happened on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge Deputy Manager Jim Hall said Tuesday that the bear cubs are still in the vicinity of the attack, and officials had used guns loaded with nonlethal ammunition to try and scare them from the area.
"We're trying to spook them off," he said.
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