A man was mauled by a bear while hiking on the Homestead Trail off Diamond Ridge Road on Monday afternoon, sustaining non-life-threatening injuries in the attack.
According to Jason Herreman, assistant Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist for the Kenai Peninsula, the man was hiking with his two dogs from the Rogers Loop Road trailhead and was coming up the hill north toward Diamond Ridge when he encountered the bear and her cubs. Herreman said the man at first didn’t know what kind of animal it was and kept walking toward it. When the brown bear was about 10 yards away, it popped its head up and the man tried to make himself appear large by raising his hands.
Herreman said the bear then charged. The man wasn’t sure if he was head-butted or swatted, but the bear knocked him to the ground, at which point he covered himself up as best he could. The bear bit him a couple of times on the head and the arms, but the attack was short and the injuries were non-life-threatening. The man was then able to stand up and watch the bear and its two cubs walk off before he made his way about a quarter of a mile up to a home on Nearly Level Avenue.
Kachemak Emergency Services was dispatched by 911 dispatchers around 3:50 p.m. and called for mutual aid from the Homer Volunteer Fire Department. When medics got on scene, the man was bandaged up and waiting in a truck at the Homestead Trail parking lot off Diamond Ridge, said Homer Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Kirko. Kirko said the individual was transported to South Peninsula Hospital to be treated for his injuries, and he appeared to be in good spirits.
Both of the victim’s dogs were unharmed and located by Monday evening.
Herreman said the area is known to have bears in it, with reports of bears killing moose in people’s yards being fairly common, though he could not recall any maulings in the area in the past. He said the incident was simply a case of an individual coming around the wrong corner at the wrong time. Fish and Game has posted warnings on the two major trailheads in addition to getting information out to the public through KBBI
Herreman reminded residents that bears are still active. “We would ask that hikers and residents be cognizant that bears are up and in the area. They will be up for some time, particularly with the warm weather we’re still having. Folks need to be aware of this and keep their attractants put away; make sure their trash is contained. Bird feeders, please keep those put away still. Make sure when you are going out hiking you’re being observant and keeping your bear spray handy.”
Herreman said the incident appears to be isolated and the department is not pursuing the animal at this time.