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Denali Park officials continue to investigate bear death

by Sue Deyoe ~ June 16th, 2010

There is still no decision or ruling by the National Park Service on the bear shooting that occurred in Denali last month.

Two backpackers were hiking through brush along Tattler Creek in Denali National Park on May 28th. A bear surprised them, or the other way around, and one of the backpackers fired about nine rounds from his .45 semi-automatic pistol.  An investigation was initiated and the dead bear was found in the brush later the next day.

Kris Fister, park spokesperson, says that the investigation into the shooting and use of firearms in the park system is bigger than Denali.  She says others in the park system statewide are involved in the firearms discussion and that a public statement will be available when a final decision is made. The names of the backpackers have not been released as the investigation continues.   Fister says it’s the first time a visitor has ever shot a bear in the wilderness area of the Park.

Fister says that Aramark, the park concessionaire, allows guns on shuttle buses, but has made a ruling that guns are not allowed on tour buses.  It is up to the concession to make the decision about weapons on their buses.

The new gun ruling was signed into law earlier this year allowing guns in national parks.  It is legal to carry a firearm in Denali but discharging the weapon is illegal.

KTNA will continue to follow this story.

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