Bear traps brought back to Eagle River trail after two bear encounters

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EAGLE RIVER, Alaska (KTUU) - Last month, a hiker in Eagle River was reportedly killed by a brown bear sow, and another person who was searching for the man was attacked, also by a brown bear sow.

In the week following the attack, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game set traps to catch the killer bear, but all efforts failed, and the traps were moved off, and the trail reopened.

Now, according to the department, those traps are back, and once again a popular Eagle River hiking trail is closed.

According to Ken Marsh, spokesperson for Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the reason the traps are back is, once again, tied to a common thread: brown bear sows.

According to Marsh, in the last week, he area saw two close encounters with hikers, during which both parties came across a brown bear sow with cubs.

In the first case, a group encountered a bear with two small cubs near the South Fork trail late Friday. One of the cubs gave a "bluff charge," that is, the cub began to charge the hikers, but didn't follow through with the charge.

In the other case, a group about a mile away from the Eagle and Symphony lakes trailhead happened across a bear and three cubs. Marsh said one of the hikers discharged a weapon due to feeling threatened. He said no bear was reportedly struck.

Whether these sows were the same as the sow that killed hiker Michael Soltis or the one that injured searcher Paul Vasquez, is not yet known.

"Right now, due to DNA testing, we know both the fatal and non fatal attack were by brown bear sows," said Marsh. "But we don't know if those attacks were the same bear, let alone these sightings."

Still, the department isn't taking any chances. With the recent sightings, the bear traps have been placed once more, and hiking along the popular Symphony Lake Trail is closed for the time being.

Marsh asked that anyone else, either in the Eagle River area or anywhere else, report any sightings with specific details to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Submissions can be made on their website via a report button.

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