Grizzly Bear Kills Hunter in Alaska in First Ever Fatal Attack at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

A hunter was killed by a grizzly bear at one of Alaska's national parks on Sunday, marking the first ever fatality from such an incident at the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

According to the National Park Service (NPS,) the hunter was taking part in a 10-day-long moose hunting trip when they were mauled to death by the bear in Wrangell-St. Elias.

Officials are yet to disclose their identity, and no further details have been released regarding the incident. An investigation into the mauling is underway, according to the NPS. It is not clear if a search is being conducted to look for the bear that was responsible.

The vast, 13.2-million-acre preserve—located in south-central Alaska—is the largest U.S. National Park. Its combined area is equal to six Yellowstones—or Yellowstone, Yosemite and the country of Switzerland combined—according to the NPS. The elevation of the park stretches from sea level all the way up to 18,008 feet at the peak of Mount St. Elias—one of the tallest mountains in North America.

"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," the NPS said in a statement regarding the incident.

Alaska is unique in that all three species of bear native to North American can be found in the state.

Brown bears are found in coastal areas of the state, while the related grizzly bear subspecies inhabits the interior of the state and Arctic regions, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Polar bears, meanwhile, live in the northernmost Arctic coastal regions of the state. Black bears—the smallest of three and the most widely distributed—can be found in forested and coastal areas.

According to the NPS, most bears tend to avoid people and fatal incidents are very rare. There were 10-bear-related fatalities in Alaska between the years 2000 and 2017 one study published last year found. In this period, 68 people were hospitalized for injuries sustained during bear attacks.

The NPS said, in most cases, a bear will leave people alone if they give the animal sufficient space.

grizzly bear
Stock image: A grizzly bear in Alaska. iStock