Eagle River man mauled by bear near Bird Creek
Hiker climbs tree to escape attack
A brown bear mauled an Eagle River man who was hiking alone on a trail near Bird Creek early Sunday morning, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Benjamin Radakovich, 30, was about 3 miles from the trailhead on Penguin Creek Trail when he encountered a bear cub, said troopers spokesperson Beth Ipsen. After the cub ran off, its mother charged Radakovich, Ipsen said.
Radakovich had a backpack and ski poles, which he used to fight off the bear, Ipsen said. He also had bear spray, she said, but wasn’t able to reach it in time.
During a lull in the attack, Radakovich was able to climb 30 feet up a nearby tree, she said. Ipsen said Radakovich heard the sow grunting for 10 minutes but didn’t hear anything after that.
Radakovich used his cellphone to call 9-1-1 at 7:42 a.m. from the tree, Ipsen said. He spoke with a Soldotna dispatcher off and on for two hours until help arrived, she said.
Two troopers and a Chugach State Park ranger reached Radakovich by 9:20 a.m., Ipsen said. They encountered a bear while hiking toward Radakovich, Ipsen said, but don’t believe it was the same one involved in the attack.
Ipsen said Radakovich was alert when rescuers reached him, but needed assistance getting off the trail.
“He was stable and he was talking, but he wasn’t able to hike out,” she said.
Girdwood Volunteer Fire Department medics brought Radakovich to the troopers helicopter, Helo-1, on a stretcher pulled behind an ATV, Ipsen said. Helo-1 flew him to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage for treatment of puncture wounds on his neck, head and back, she said.
Providence spokesperson Ginger Houghton said Radakovich was treated and released from the hospital on Sunday.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game also responded to the call, Ipsen said.
Ipsen said Fish and Game has reported a lot of bear activity near Bird Creek Trail, which is located at the end of Konikson Road near Mile 100.5 of the Seward Highway.
“The bears are out now and people are out now because this is hiking weather,” Ipsen said. “At this point, it’s probably best if people stay away from that trail.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727.