Employees of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) responded to the location of a fatal bear attack that occurred Wednesday, July 29, near the community of Hope, to collect samples and gather information. Hair collected during the initial investigation appeared to be from a brown bear. DNA was able to be extracted from some of the hair and from additional samples collected. Preliminary results identified female brown bear and female black bear DNA associated with the attack site and the victim, Daniel Schilling.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to Mr. Schilling’s family and friends during this very sad time,” said Cyndi Wardlow, Southcentral Regional Supervisor.
“While we may never know the full circumstances, we are trying to learn everything we can about what happened to help people stay safe around wildlife in Alaska.”
There were no witnesses to the events that led to the attack. An empty bear spray canister with the safety removed was found at the location of the attack, and it appeared that bear spray had been discharged at the site. No attractants, such as a dead moose or a food cache, were found in a search of the area during the investigation.
Efforts continued over the last week to locate and kill the animals that had been at the site. Game cameras placed by ADF&G during their investigation indicated that at least one black bear had returned to the area.
On Wednesday afternoon, August 5, ADF&G employees killed one female brown bear and three female black bears near the initial attack location. The area where the attack occurred is remote, with challenging terrain and limited access.
Additional samples from the bears killed on Wednesday will be analyzed to determine if they match the DNA of any samples collected previously.