Alaska teen mauled to death by black bear contacted family during chase

Rufina Vignone
Giugno 21, 2017

The teenager was a participant in the juniors division of the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb race between Anchorage and Girdwood.

The deceased, identified as Patrick Cooper, is a resident of Anchorage city.

The death came after a 16-year-old boy competing in a mountain race just south of Anchorage was mauled by a black bear on Sunday.

Other runners, most of whom who had completed the race already, immediately volunteered to be part of the search. The 24 mile Crow Pass Crossing is scheduled for July 27 this year, through an area known for its bear sightings.

A park ranger eventually found the bear responsible and shot it but the animal managed to escape.

The bear that killed Cooper was most likely displaying rare predatory behavior, not defending itself, Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh told the Associated Press.

A member of the search party discovered the boy's remains 1,500 feet (457 meters) from the trail.

Chugach State Park ranger Tom Crockett said the black bear was alone and is estimated to weigh 250 pounds.

Hechtel said he's found that the close-up range of bear spray can encourage people to stand their ground during a bear attack instead of panicking.

In the wake of those attacks, Minnesota DNR bear research biologist Dave Garshelis said Minnesotans have very little to worry about. "In the entire history of the race I've never known of any bear incidents", Precosky told The Alaska Dispatch News. Sometimes that means nothing. Additional information has surfaced that the black bear that attacked Cooper wasn't the only one on the trail that day. The mother grizzly was shot, but the injury was not fatal and the search for the wounded bear was called off indefinitely shortly after. "All I knew was there was a boy missing, and missing in bear country". Adult competitors run three miles and 3,400 vertical feet up the rocky mountainside. In all that time, he's only dealt with one predatory bear - back in 1987.

Areas where wilderness races such as Sunday's take place are inherently risky when it comes to bear encounters, Precosky said.

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