Elias

Bear kills hunter at Wrangell-St. Elias, largest US national park

A grizzly bear mauled and killed a man at an Alaska park Sunday, the National Park Service confirmed.

The fatal attack occurred in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, America’s largest national park, while the man was on a 10-day moose hunt with a friend.

The friend wasn’t injured in the attack.

“The incident is the first known bear mauling fatality recorded in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve since the park was established in 1980,” the NPS wrote in a statement. “Visitors are encouraged to be Bear Aware when traveling in the backcountry and take precautions such as carrying bear spray and using Bear Resistant Food Containers.”

Austin Pfeiffer, 22, of Mansfield, Ohio, was the victim of the attack, reports the Mansfield News Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, citing the Mansfield Police Department.

Pfeiffer was a job site foreman with Dolce’s Tree Service and a skilled tree climber, lift operator and all around handyman, according to his employer’s website.

At 13.2 million acres (20,625 square miles), Wrangell-St. Elias is the same size as Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and the country of Switzerland combined.

Fatal bear attacks are rare. According to Alaska News Source, on average, there are 2.56 bear attack deaths in the continent of North America each year.

Contributing: Lou Whitmire, Mansfield News Journal

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