Gone fishing: Brown bear attacks man in Kenai


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.


  1. “Bear attacks in November are not that common in Alaska, as the animals are heading into torpor, the state that most people call hibernation.”

    See what that damned Daylight Saving Time change does?
    Even the wildlife’s internal clocks are all messed up!

  2. An attack such as this is bound to happen when one is unarmed, and fishing in the middle of bear sign like tracks, feces, and dead/dying fish.

    Bears are less active in the fall, but as long as there is food available, some don’t den up.

    Dumb move.

    • “Dumb move”? Hiking in Alaska? Being unarmed? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time? We live here too and chance encounters like this are part of everyday life. Say something nice for a change. Like maybe “I’m happy the man wasn’t more severely injured and I hope for a speedy recovery” “Dumb move”.
      Virtue signaling at the expense of others is narcissism on steroids.

  3. So the first thing to remember when attacked by a brown bear is to take time to assess whether or not it is a predatory attack. Consider all the facts of the situation before making your decision. It could save your life.

  4. Correction: ADFG and AST log and investigate every bear attack in Alaska, and their research includes Canada and No America. They do not recommend dropping to the ground unless the bear knocks you down. See: ‘https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.bearsafety
    The correct action is to stand your ground. Stand tall, talk calmly to the bear. Yeah, the charging bear.
    In my experience, the bear will loudly pop teeth, stomp the ground, shred the earth, and behave like one of Jane Goodall’s territorial gorillas. The pistol in your hand will look and feel tiny. Really tiny.
    The noise a pistol makes, loudly directed into the ground in front of the charging bear, was a fine deterrent for me. Took several, but each time the bear spun around and backed a few feet further away.
    No, don’t lay down. Do stand tall. Talk calmly. Slooowly back away.
    Bear attacks are rare. So rare they are newsworthy.
    Drownings, in contrast, are far more common. Almost always avoidable. (Wear a lifejacket! A Personal Flotation Device = PFD) And therefore rarely newsworthy.

  5. Commanded Loran Station Cape Sarichef on Unimak Island (north end of Unimak Pass) for a year, and the rule (via station order) was if you left the station area other than a vehicle driving to the airstrip or White Alice station you had to be armed with a 30-06 being the minimum weapon. This served us well, and no one ever got injured by a brown bear.

    We did have multiple bear encounters, and the only bad encounters were from the bear’s perspective. With the proper weapon to deter the bear (most of them really do not like the sound of gunshots) you can have a bear encounter experience with only a story to tell. Most brown bears were curious and did not regard humans as food as opposed to caribou which were good for over a day of eating.

    Flares are also of use but remember it will not stop the bear if he is not scared by it and a flare on dry tundra grass (as opposed to fresh green grass) could start a widfire.

    Shooting the bear is not a good idea unless you are bear hunting and have the proper permit. A killing in defense of life or property required a statement and sending the hide and skull (it may have been the head) to Fish & Game.

    Bears also do not like dogs. However, you need the right dog. A dumb dog will retreat back toward you with the bear in pursuit.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.