ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A black bear that was killed near the scene of a deadly mauling in remote Alaska last week has been identified as the animal responsible, Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday.
Robert Weaver, 64, was mauled Thursday outside a cabin at George Lake, about 110 miles southeast of Fairbanks.
“Mr. Weaver’s remains were found in the bear’s stomach,” troopers spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said.
But even that wasn’t enough to prompt final determination since this bear could have been near the cabin and ate the remains after another bear left.
However, Ipsen said wildlife troopers made the determination that this was the bear responsible after no other bears were seen in the vicinity of the kill.
Weaver, of Fairbanks, and his wife were at the lake last Thursday when the attack happened. His wife, who hasn’t been identified, sought shelter in the cabin and called authorities.
Responding officials, including personnel from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks and Alaska Wildlife Troopers via boat, found Weaver’s body outside the cabin and his wife severely traumatized inside.
An Alaska Wildlife Trooper investigating the death with a civilian noticed a black bear stalking the area and killed it.
A necropsy was conducted on the bear the following day in Fairbanks, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Cathie Harms said the bear appeared to be an older adult male based upon the wear on its molars.
She said it had normal levels of fat, meaning it was not in a condition of starvation, and did not have any apparent disease or infirmity.
“We don’t have any kind of determination of what led up to the attack,” Ipsen said.
It didn’t appear the bear was protecting a food cache, and since it was male, it wasn’t being protective of cubs, she said.
There appear to be no mitigating factors for the mauling, she added.
Attacks by black bears are very uncommon, with fatal attacks even more rare. Harms said records only indicate four other fatalities by black bears in Alaska in the last 61 years.
Ipsen said the wife’s name is not being released to give her privacy.
“We want to give her time, give her space,” Ipsen said. “She’s going through a lot.”