Denali National Park and Preserve officials confirm that a solo backpacker was killed by a grizzly bear along the Toklat River Friday afternoon, making the death the first known bear mauling fatality within the park.
On Saturday, park officials identified that hiker as 49-year-old Richard White of San Diego.
Officials say three hikers discovered an abandoned backpack along the Toklat River. The hikers saw signs of a violent struggle, including torn clothing and blood, and immediately notified the National Park Service.
Alaska State Troopers and park rangers at Denali shot and killed a male bear protecting the kill site Saturday afternoon as investigators tried to reach White's remains.
The results of a necropsy on the bear, combined with pictures taken of the victim before the attack, confirm that it was the animal that killed White.
Park superintendent Paul Anderson says White was walking on a dry section of the river and approached the bear which was in some brush at the edge of the river.
"He approached the bear within approximately 50 yards, and spent more than 8 minutes photographing the bear before it attacked him," said Anderson.
Park officials say there may be 10 to 12 bears that frequent this area of the Toklat river over the course of the year.