Bear involved in mauling found dead

The brown bear that mauled a moose hunter near Skilak Lake on Tuesday has been found dead following investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The adult sow was found about 100 yards from the site of the attack on Wednesday after being shot multiple times with a high-powered rifle, said Division of Wildlife Conservation Information Officer Ken Marsh. The bear mauled Texas resident Gregory Matthews, 47, while he was out moose hunting with his brother, Roger, about a mile from the Doroshin Bay Cabin near Skilak Lake.

“They’d actually set their camp up on the south shore of (the) lake and then were hunting at the head of Doroshin Bay,” Marsh said, adding that the brothers had been in the area for a few hours before the attack. “Roger was actually doing the calling, and Greg was actually standing by waiting to see if a moose would come to the call.”

Matthews noticed movement in the brush, realized it was a bear and said “Woah, bear,” to make his presence known, Marsh said.

“The bear immediately lowered her head and charged,” he said.

Matthews, who had been planning to hunt moose with a bow, threw his bow aside and reached for his rifle, getting off one shot toward the bear before it made contact with him, Marsh said. His brother was about 40 yards away at the time.

“He saw the bear actually mauling his brother,” Marsh said.

Roger Matthews ran toward his brother, yelled to get the bear’s attention and shot at it multiple times until it ran away, Marsh said. Then, he helped Gregory Matthews down to the shoreline about a half mile away, where a fisherman called 911.

Gregory Matthews is still recovering at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna, Marsh said, and told investigators he saw two cubs with the bear that attacked him. He said the cubs appeared large, at least half the size of the sow, Marsh said.

“(Investigators) did not see the cubs, and they… determined the sow was not actively nursing,” Marsh said. “There’s a real good chance that they’re going to be able to go on and survive on their own.”

The cubs are thought to be at least yearlings, and possibly 2 or 3 years old, according to a joint statement sent out by the Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Fish and Game. Parts of the bear that could be salvaged have been turned over to the Department of Fish and Game for “future use” and a more complete investigation will be done in the next two weeks, according to the release.

The Department of Fish and Game will use remains from the bear for research and possibly educational purposes, Marsh said. The bear’s teeth will be used to determine its age, and DNA samples will be used in ongoing studies on brown bears on the Kenai Peninsula, he said.

The Doroshin Bay Cabin and surrounding area are open to public use, though signs warning of the bear activity were posted by investigators, said Deputy Refuge Manager Steve Miller in a previous interview with the Clarion.

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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