Lifestyle & Belief

Hiker killed by grizzly bear while taking photos


The 500-pound captive brown bears worked on films and television commercials.



A man killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska was an experienced hiker who liked to trek to remote places, his family said.

Richard White, 49, a married father-of-one, was attacked by a grizzly bear in the Denali National Park last Friday as he hiked alone, the San Diego Union Tribune reported. 

Investigators recovered White's camera, which revealed he spent at least eight minutes taking photos of the bear, just 50 yards away.

"They show the bear grazing in the willows, not acting aggressive in any form or manner during that period of time,"Denali Park Superintendent Paul Anderson said.

But when the grizzly bear noticed White, it turned on him, attacking him and mauling him to death, officials said.

White is survived by his wife, Silke and daughter, Mona, 21 months.

His father, Byron White, yesterday paid tribute to his son, who worked as the director of exploratory pharmacology at San Diego’s Ferring Pharmaceuticals until 2011 and was changing to a new company.

“He had a real zest for seeing the phenomena in the world and interacting with people all over the globe,” Byron White said.

“He also liked hiking alone in these remote places. He enjoyed being out in the wilderness.”

The Los Angeles Times reported the death is the first known bear attack on a human in the 90-year history of the national park. Backpackers are warned to stay at least a quarter mile from bears when in the park. 

Officials recommend hikers carry bear spray, powerful chemicals that work like the pepper spray police officers carry. Others carry rifles. 

The Syracuse said authorities were alerted to the tragedy when other hikers stumbled upon an abandoned backpack, torn clothing and blood along the river about three miles from a rest area on Friday afternoon. The hikers also spotted torn clothing and blood. They immediately alerted staff park.

Rangers in a helicopter spotted a large male grizzly bear sitting on the hiker's remains and a state trooper shot and killed the bear yesterday.

The newspaper said investigators will examine its stomach contents and use other tests to confirm it killed the hiker.

The Sacramento Bee said investigations would try to determine what made the bear turn on the hiker.

"It's an extremely rare event, and it's not common that we even have injuries related to bears," said park spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin.

"So in terms of what triggered this, we do not know. It was an unwitnessed incident, but we'll see if there are any clues that the biologists can find as to why this took place."

His family said White had been in the Denali backcountry for three nights when his trip ended in tragedy.