A brown bear shooting has caused the closing of a three-mile section of the popular Turnagain Arm Trail in Alaska, according to a Monday report from the Alaska Dispatch.
The shooting occurred when a hiker reportedly found himself 50 feet away from a charging brown bear on Sunday morning. Chugach State Park officials said the man, who did not wish to be identified, used an AK-74 rifle and fired 13 shots at the bear, though it wasn’t clear how many actually hit the animal.
Officials decided to close the trail because they were worried about the carcass attracting other bears to the area.
Chugach State Park Superintendent Tom Harrison said the hiker responsible for the brown bear shooting reported the incident to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Dave Battle, the Anchorage Fish and Game’s assistant area biologist, said the hiker claimed the bear was charging when he opened fire.
“He did say that it charged,” Battle said. “Basically, he stopped about a mile from the Rainbow trailhead, stopped to sit on a rock to drink some water, heard a growl and saw a brown bear about 50 feet away. Then it came toward him — he described it as a charge.”
Battle said area biologist Jessy Coltrane accepted the head and hide of the animal from the hiker on Monday. DLP, or “defense of life and property” shootings required the hiker to collect pieces from the animal.
An AK-74 is considered an “assault-style rifle.” It uses small-caliber bullets, which typically are not cut out for bringing down big game as in the brown bear shooting.
This particular type of bruin can weight between 300 and 850 pounds. The hiker told Battle that he routinely carried the AK-74 and an AK-47 on his person during trips to the wild.
“I don’t know why he hiked with those particular weapons,” Battle said. “I’m not a gun expert, but to my knowledge those are fairly small rounds compared to the things that we would normally recommend for bear protection.”
Ideally, Battle said, if an individual preferred a rifle as a form of bear defense, he would want to go with a.30-caliber or higher bullet with a preference for the.338 magnum cartridge.
“It sounded like he was trying to put a lot of bullets into it as opposed to having two or three very effective bullets,” Battle said.
Bears have kept a low and relatively harmless profile as of late. Last week, one did decide to go dumpster diving and then stop by a Colorado bar, presumably for a Shirley Temple. By and large, however, these animals are not to be trifled with as anyone, who’s watched Grizzly Man can tell you.
While the hiker’s choice of weapon for the brown bear shooting wasn’t ideal, we can’t say we would’ve done things any differently in that situation.
[Image via ShutterStock]