Brown bear with cubs mauls Texas moose hunter in Alaska

AP News
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Posted: Sep 23, 2015 6:49 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Texas man who was mauled by a brown bear while moose hunting in Alaska was expected to survive serious injuries, authorities said Wednesday.

The bear with two cubs attacked 47-year-old Gregory Joseph Matthews of Plano, Texas, as he hunted Tuesday with his brother in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, authorities said.

Fishermen in the area alerted Alaska State Troopers shortly after 6 p.m. and Matthews was flown to Central Peninsula Hospital in nearby Soldotna.

Matthews was listed in good condition Wednesday. He declined requests from The Associated Press for an interview.

It was the third bear attack on the Kenai Peninsula in recent weeks.

A 62-year-old Funny River man was seriously injured Sept. 13 when he was mauled by a brown bear during a walk in the woods. On Aug. 4, a 20-year-old backcountry lodge employee from Girdwood sustained non-life-threatening injuries when she was attacked by a bear after she and another worker startled the animal while they were running on a trail.

Spawning salmon are passing through nearby waterways, attracting bears to the area of Tuesday's mauling, according to refuge manager Andy Loranger. The backcountry where the attack occurred — near Doroshin Bay at the upper end of Skilak Lake — is primarily accessible by boat or occasionally by floatplane in summer.

"Alaska is bear country," Loranger said. "The Kenai Peninsula is certainly bear country."

Matthews and his brother, Roger, were hunting about 40 yards apart when Matthews was attacked by the bear, according to Ken Marsh of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, one of the agencies that responded to the scene Wednesday.

Roger told authorities that he went to his brother after the attack, but the bear then turned toward him. He shot at the animal twice with a 300 Winchester Magnum rifle, and told authorities he believes the bear was struck both times, according to Marsh.

Gregory Matthews also reported shooting at the bear, according to Marsh.

"But he doesn't know if he hit the bear," Marsh said.

The responding fishermen were able to get to a place with good cellphone reception and called 911.

Officials with Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were looking for the bear. The uninjured brother helped guide them to the area, according to Marsh. If the animal is found mortally wounded, it's likely to be euthanized, he said.

Loranger believes finding the bear in the heavily wooded terrain will be difficult. He said officials at the scene also are looking to confirm the attack was indeed a bear with cubs.

There was no immediate decision to close the area.

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