Photos Shed Light on Fatal Grizzly Mauling

Denali National Park officials scrutinize Richard White's photos
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2012 5:52 PM CDT
Photos Shed Light on Fatal Grizzly Mauling
In this Sept. 11, 2011 photo, two bears walk across the tundra at Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, where a hiker was killed on Friday.   (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

More details are emerging in the sad and somewhat reckless case of the backpacker who was killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska's Denali National Park on Friday—compliments of his own photographs. National Park Service officials have examined the 26 shots, taken on a digital camera over about 7.5 minutes, and say that the grizzly was unaware of the presence of Richard White for almost the entirety of that time. Time stamps revealed that he started taking photos of a large male at 12:58pm, from what rangers now estimate was a distance of 40 yards, which is 10 times closer than recommended.

"The majority of them were just regular snapshots of a bear foraging," the chief park ranger tells the Anchorage Daily News. But the remaining five photos, taken over the course of about 13 seconds, show the bear raise its head, turn toward the 49-year-old, and begin to move toward him. "There were no shots indicative of a charge," says the ranger, but the grizzly had "a definite, focused stare." The photos haven't been made public. White, who was married and had a young daughter, noted that he had 30-plus year of backpacking experience on his backcountry permit, but also marked that he was not carrying bear spray. (More Denali National Park stories.)

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