(DENALI, Alaska) — A San Diego man was mauled to death by a grizzly bear in Alaska’s Denali National Park after he stopped to take pictures of the animal, officials said.
Richard White, 49, had been backpacking alone for three nights when he encountered the bear on Friday near the Toklat River, according to the National Park Service.
It was the first known fatal mauling in Denali National Park.
Backpackers must undergo “Bear Aware” training in order to receive a permit to hike in the backcountry, park officials said. The training includes a 30-minute safety video and a briefing from rangers.
Friday afternoon, three day hikers found an abandoned backpack and “evidence of a violent struggle.”
The hikers alerted National Park Service staff, who launched an aerial search of the park and located White’s remains, however a short time later the grizzly bear returned and began to circle around the rangers, park officials said.
The rangers fired two shots at the bear, but the animal was not hit. The rangers decided to retreat until daylight, officials said in a statement.
On Saturday, rangers and state troopers returned to the site and shot the bear.
White’s remains were taken to the medical examiner in Anchorage.
Investigators examined the stomach contents of the bear and photographs White had taken and were able to determine they had killed the bear responsible for mauling White, officials said.
While the portion of the park where White was mauled is closed, other areas of the park remain open, officials said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Tim Hume and Vasco Cotovio, CNN
Sophie Tatum, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com