A Haines man was mauled by a brown bear along the Chilkat River Thursday evening. 21-year-old Casey Bradford is recovering from non-life threatening injuries sustained during the attack.
The mauling occurred while Casey Bradford was moose hunting with his father Scott Bradford about 25 miles northwest of Haines. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Management Biologist Carl Koch says he was notified of the incident a little before 8 p.m. He says that the Bradfords were returning to their boat at the end of the day when Casey was attacked.
“Right about the time they came in view of each other, the father heard the son yell, saw him fall down with a bear. So he ran toward the bear. When he got closer, fired a shot intentionally away from the bear because he didn’t want to accidentally injure his son,” Koch says.
The bear let go of Casey and started to run away. Scott shot at the bear as it entered the brush, but couldn’t tell whether he hit it or not. The father and son were able to motor their skiff back to the boat launch and drive to the local clinic on their own.
According to Alaska Wildlife Trooper Wallace Kirksey, Casey sustained puncture wounds to his arm and leg. His wounds were dressed at the local clinic, but he was transported to Juneau by the Coast Guard for further treatment.
Koch says it is unclear what provoked the attack.
“They had not harvested a moose, so that was not anything that would have brought the bear into the area, but wearing camo starting to get darker. Hard to say exactly what the bear’s motivation was, it’s possible that it was a surprise,” Koch says.
There have been other encounters with aggressive bears in Haines this year. Last month a brown bear charged two people who were hiking on Mt. Ripinsky. The bear did not make contact with either of them. Koch says the recent incidents are just a matter of bad luck.
“This situation, just like the hiking trail earlier this year, is just a case of wrong place wrong time.”
Koch says that warning signs will be posted near the area where the attack occurred. Fish and Game hasn’t decided whether to search for the bear or not. State troopers are trying to determine whether or not the bear was injured during the encounter.
The Bradfords did not immediately respond to requests for comment.