FAIRBANKS - Alaska State Troopers on Tuesday confirmed that the adult male black bear shot by a trooper shortly after a bear mauling at a remote lake near Delta Junction was the bear that killed a Fairbanks man last week.
Trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen said remains of the victim, 64-year-old Robert Weaver, were found in the bear’s stomach during a necropsy performed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks on Friday.
That fact, combined with information provided by Weaver’s wife, who witnessed the attack, and troopers at the scene, contributed to the positive identification, Ipsen said.
“We didn’t want to specifically say that was the bear that killed him because there could have been other bears in the area ... but that was the only bear seen leading up to the attack and after the attack,” Ipsen said.
Weaver was killed last Thursday evening as he and his wife, Roberta, were walking to their cabin on George Lake, a remote site about 35 miles southeast of Delta Junction.
“What we do know is they were boating back to their cabin, they saw the bear from the boat when they came to dock, yelled at it and it disappeared into the bushes,” Ipsen said. “They docked and were walking to the cabin when it came out of the bushes and attacked.”
Roberta Weaver ran to the cabin and called 911 on a cell phone.
Troopers were notified at about 6:45 p.m. Thursday. A trooper helicopter from Fairbanks, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Eielson Air Force Base and a trooper from Delta in an airboat responded to the scene. Weaver’s body was recovered outside the cabin at about 9 p.m..
Troopers who responded to the scene did not immediately find a bear in the area but later killed a an adult black bear that sneaked up within 10 feet of a trooper and a civilian who was assisting with the investigation.
ADFG conducted a necropsy on the dead black bear Friday afternoon in Fairbanks. The bear was an adult male that weighed approximately 230 pounds and appeared to be in relatively good condition, Fish and Game spokeswoman Cathie Harms said. Some of its teeth were worn down, indicating it was an older bear, but it had normal levels of fat and wasn’t starving, she said.
Troopers gathered most of their information about the mauling from talking to Weaver’s wife and listening to the 911 call, Ipsen said. She didn’t know if either one of the Weavers was carrying a gun and said troopers do not plan to release any more details about the incident.
Maulings by black bears in Alaska are uncommon compared to their bigger grizzly cousins, but there have been at least three people killed by black bears in Alaska, Harms said. A woman was fatally attacked in Glennallen in 1992, and Harms said there were at least two other fatal maulings by black bears, one in the 1960s and one in the 1950s.
“It’s unusual but it’s not unprecedented,” Harms said.
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.