Fish and Game scales back search for bear or bears that killed Eagle River hiker

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is scaling back its search for the bear or bears that killed Mike Soltis and attacked a rescuer in Eagle River in June.

Ken Marsh, a spokesperson for the department, says the trail has gone cold, leading Fish and Game to remove live cameras, bear traps and staff from Hiland Road.

For the fatal bear attacks in 2017, Fish and Game says there were clear witnesses to the incidents, and a bear could be identified and killed relatively quickly. “It’s been two weeks. The bear or bears could be a long way from here by now,” said Marsh.

The department is now moving to a long-term strategy, looking to analyze DNA samples and hoping to find a match.

The DNA evidence they have collected has allowed Fish and Game to make some conclusions about the animal or animals involved in the two attacks in Eagle River. “We do know there was a female brown bear in both attacks, we don’t know if it’s the same female brown bear.”

For holiday hikers, Marsh says there is likely no elevated risk by the bear or bears being out there, but he advises people take normal precautions to avoid bears, and to always carry a deterrent.

As days turn to weeks, Marsh explains that Fish and Game is still intent on removing the threatening animal or animals from the population.

“If we are able to kill the bear or bears involved in the attack, we would certainly do so,” Marsh said.