Fish and Game kills 4 bears near Hope as it investigates fatal mauling

Black bear. (Alaska Department of Fish and Game)
Black bear. (Alaska Department of Fish and Game)

Wildlife biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game killed one female brown bear and three female black bears near Hope on Wednesday as part of their investigation into last week’s fatal mauling.

The agency said it will analyze DNA samples from the four bears to see if they match evidence collected at the scene of the attack.

It’s still unclear what led to the mauling last Wednesday, said Cynthia Wardlow, Anchorage regional supervisor with Fish and Game.

Officials have said a bear killed 46-year-old Daniel Schilling as he cleared a brushy trail about a mile behind his cabin near the Turnagain Arm community of Hope. There were no witnesses.

It’s believed Schilling used bear spray to try to defend himself.

“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,” Fish and Game said in a statement Thursday.

Fish and Game said it found no bear attractants in the area such as a dead moose or food cache.

The agency originally thought a brown bear had attacked Schilling, based on tufts of hair found at the scene. Now, it says, the bear could have been a female brown bear or a female black bear. Fish and Game collected both types of DNA at the attack site.

“The only thing it says for certain is that both species of bear were present at the site,” Wardlow said.

Wardlow said Fish and Game is waiting on a lab analysis of samples from the bears killed.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to Mr. Schilling’s family and friends during this very sad time,” she said. “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.”

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