Monday, August 27, 2012
A San Diego man mauled to death by a grizzly bear he was photographing in Alaska's Denali National Park had taken mandatory bear awareness training but failed to stay a safe distance away from the wild animal as instructed, it was reported Sunday.
Richard White, 49, was backpacking alone and within about 50 feet of the bear when it attacked him Friday afternoon along the Toklat River, according to Denali Park Superintendent Paul Anderson. It was the first fatal grizzly attack in the park's nearly 100-year history.
Anderson told U-T San Diego that White had taken bear awareness training as required to use the park. During that training, hikers are advised to stay a mandatory quarter-mile or more away from bears.
Photographs taken by White immediately before the attack showed the bear grazing but not acting aggressively, Anderson said.
A state trooper killed the male bear on Saturday after it was spotted sitting near White's remains, which authorities described as a "food cache'' about 100 to 150 feet from the site of the attack. A necropsy confirmed the bear was the one that attacked White.
An autopsy on White's body was pending and expected to be conducted in Anchorage.
White was the director of exploratory pharmacology at San Diego's Ferring Pharmaceuticals until 2011 and was in the process of switching to a new company, his father, Byron White, told U-T San Diego. White was also survived by his wife, Silke, and a 21-month-old daughter, Mona, according to the newspaper.
White had been in the backcountry for three nights when he was attacked. Other hikers who came across his bloodied clothing and abandoned backpack notified rangers.
White's father said his son had been to Denali at least once before.
"He had a real zest for seeing the phenomena in the world and interacting with people all over the globe,'' Byron White told U-T San Diego.
"He also liked hiking alone in these remote places. He enjoyed being out in the wilderness.''