Alaska Wildlife Troopers in Soldotna responded to a bear attack on the Hidden Creek Trail near Skilak Lake on Thursday.
A 72-year-old man had been attacked by a bear after he accidentally got between a sow and her cub, Troopers said in a dispatch report. A second person who was with the victim was unharmed. The two men were hiking the trail to go fishing at Hidden Creek, where there are still a few salmon dying or dead in the creek.
The injured man was medevaced to a local hospital with what are believed to be non-life-threatening injuries and is reported to be in stable condition.
Alaska Wildlife Troopers were assisted by Central Emergency Services and an officer from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All personnel are out of the field and the bears have departed the area, the Troopers said. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will be continuing the investigation.
Bear attacks in November are not that common in Alaska, as the animals are heading into torpor, the state that most people call hibernation. They are coming out of hyperphasia, their feeding and gorging phase. Winter maulings are not unheard of, however, according to MRAK hunting sources, because the bears are not truly hibernating.
Brown bears only typically attack when they sense a threat, which is why people are advised to not fight back when they are being attacked, but to drop to the ground, keep vital organs down toward the ground and neck covered, and try to not appear as a threat. This advice doesn’t apply to an attack by the occasional predatory brown bear.
Hidden Creek and Skilak Lake is at about milepost 45 on the Sterling Highway.