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Anchorage Cyclist Encounters Bear

ANCHORAGE - A commuter bicycling to work suffered minor injuries Tuesday morning when he rode too close to a brown bear sow and her cub in Far North Bicentennial Park on the east edge of Anchorage.

The cyclist was approaching a wooden foot bridge across Campbell Creek when he surprised the bear as close as 15 feet. The biker stopped and dismounted, using the bike as a shield when the bear charged him.

When that didn't work, the 45-year-old man played dead, the appropriate response to a defensive brown bear attack. The bear swatted him yielding minor injuries.  After the attack, the cyclist continued on to his job and received medical attention.

The attack occurred at the intersection with Rover's Run, a trail where two people were injured by brown bears in 2008.

A sign warning of the attack was posted at the South Bivouac trailhead.

Anchorage area management biologist Rick Sinnott said there were no plans to pursue the bear because it was surprised at close range and defending its young. If the bear continues to be a threat, Fish and Game will reassess this decision.

To identify future activity by this bear, hair samples were collected from the cyclist's clothes and bike and the scene of the attack. The USGS Molecular Ecology Laboratory in Anchorage will work with Fish and Game to identify the bear through DNA extracted from the hair; however, results may take weeks.

Brown bears concentrate along salmon-spawning streams, such as the South Fork, this time of year.  All residents are encouraged to practice Bear Aware behaviors in areas where bears are present.  More information regarding bear human interaction and advice on bear encounters may be found on the ADF&G website:  http://www.wildlife.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=bears.main

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