Park: Hunter's Mauling Death Was 'Surprise Attack'

Ohio man was field-dressing moose
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2020 8:14 AM CDT
Park: Hunter's Mauling Death Was 'Surprise Attack'
The park, established in 1980, stretches more than 13 million acres, an area six times the size of Yellowstone National Park.   (Wikimedia Commons/Diego Delso)

The man killed by a grizzly bear in America's biggest national park was attacked as he field-dressed a moose he had killed the night before, authorities say. The victim of the first known fatal bear attack in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve has been identified as 22-year-old Ohio resident Austin Pfeiffer, NBC reports. Park spokeswoman Jan Maslen says Pfeiffer was butchering the moose Sunday while his hunting partner transported the meat back to their camp about half a mile away. "We assume it was a surprise attack, that he was preparing the next load and didn’t have a weapon or deterrent on hand to defend himself," she says.

Maslen says Pfeiffer's partner was charged by the bear when he returned to the kill site. The man shot at the animal several times and it ran off after flinching like it had been struck, Maslen says. He found Pfeiffer's body next to the moose carcass. "Park rangers found no evidence that the bear remains in the area, and no other park visitors are known to be in the immediate vicinity of the incident location," the National Park Service said in a statement. The Anchorage Daily News notes that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's safety guide "encourages the removal of game meat immediately, because bears may be drawn to the kill site." (More bear attack stories.)

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