A Soldotna big game guide hired to protect seismic
workers from brown bears was mauled Tuesday morning as he
approached a den housing a sow and two cubs in the hills northeast
of Anchor Point on the Kenai Peninsula.
Brady had been investigating the scene after one member of
a four-person crew laying seismic cables reported seeing "something"
move in the woods off a steep trail, said Mark Chihuly, who
operates a bear monitoring team working with the crew.
there hadn't been a bear guard, somebody would have died today,"
Chihuly said. "They would have walked within 15 feet
of the bear den."
guards have accompanied oil exploration crews ever since a
fatal mauling in 1998. A seismic worker that year surprised
a brown bear near Sterling and was killed almost instantly
when the growling animal bolted from its den and bit down
on his head.
this instance, Brady had ordered the crew from Veritas DGC
Inc. to retreat to a safe location while he walked down the
hill to check. When he realized there was a bear den just
off the seismic trail, Brady radioed the crew to move further
sow attacked without warning, Chihuly said.
came out on a full charge, and he was able to get off a shot
and mortally wound the bear, and then the bear attacked him
and bit his legs and back," he said. "Basically
what he saw was a flash of fur, and then she was on him."
the bear ran away, Brady was able to walk out to a helicopter,
and was taken by ambulance to Central Peninsula General Hospital
in Soldotna, where he was listed in good condition Tuesday
afternoon. Brady declined to talk to a reporter about the
was my understanding that there was a claw puncture wound
to the back and some more extensive damage to the right calf
and hamstring," said Bruce Bartley, spokesman for the
Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
sow and two cubs fled the area in different directions. The
sow was later tracked by a bloody trail for 400 to 500 yards
by Chihuly and guard Ted Spraker, a retired state biologist.
animal was walking on three legs, but was clearly bleeding
to death. They dispatched the dying bear with a shot.
was surprised that it was still alive after seeing all that
blood," Chihuly said.
area biologist Jeff Selinger investigated the scene later
in the day and found that the bear had remained nearby for
a while after the attack.
looks to me like the bear ran back to the den, ran back out,
then it circled (and) made a loop but didn't come to (Brady)
again," Selinger said. "It came back within 50 to
75 meters of the den and then ran off again."
cubs ran too but never picked up the sow's trail, Selinger
said. The yearling animals could possibly survive if they
can find food, he said, but he wanted to examine them and
put tags in their ears so they could be monitored.
crews have been conducting seismic exploration for Unocal
to check out natural gas deposits in the Ninilchik Dome area
of the lower peninsula, said project manager Henry Biggart.
The workers lay miles of cables and listening phones across
the forest floor. The network records vibrations from detonations
as a way to find out about geologic formations underground.
crew plans to return to the area today but will pull back
if there is any sign of the cubs, Biggart and Chihuly said.
bears are listed as a population of special concern on the
Kenai. The deaths of eight sows in any year from human causes
will, under regulations, shut down fall brown bear hunting.
This death was the first of the season, Selinger said.
said his goal was to keep seismic crews and bears separate,
but Brady had no choice in this instance but to shoot the
going to be fine -- he's just got a story to tell," he
News reporter Doug O'Harra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org