FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man was killed by a bear Thursday evening at George Lake near Delta Junction, according to Alaska State Troopers.
Troopers identified the victim as Robert Weaver, 64.
It was unclear what kind of bear mauled Weaver. Troopers who responded to the scene did not immediately find a bear in the area but later shot and killed a cinnamon black bear that snuck up within 10 feet of a trooper and a civilian who was assisting him with the investigation, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.
“It startled them and given the circumstances, it was immediately dispatched,” she said.
Troopers were at George Lake on Friday conducting an investigation, Peters said.
Troopers received a report of the mauling at about 6:45 p.m. Thursday. According to the report, Weaver was on the ground outside a cabin and a second person was calling for help from the inside of the cabin.
A trooper helicopter from Fairbanks, a Blackhawk helicopter from Eielson Air Force Base and a trooper in an airboat responded to the scene.
Eielson personnel found the person who called for help inside the cabin shortly after 9 p.m. and found Weaver’s body outside the cabin. The caller witnessed part of the attack on Weaver and took refuge in the cabin, according to troopers.
The individual did not say what kind of bear attacked Weaver, only that it was a bear and it attempted to get into the cabin at one point, Peters said. The person was not injured.
Troopers would not confirm the identity of the second person at the scene but information obtained by the News-Miner indicate it was his wife, Roberta, who was in the cabin. The Weavers own a cabin on the lake 35 miles southeast of Delta Junction.
No other details about the attack were available Friday and troopers said additional information will not likely be released until after an autopsy is performed.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game conducted a necropsy on the dead black bear Friday afternoon. The bear was an adult male that weighed approximately 230 pounds, ADFG spokeswoman Cathie Harms said.
“It’s canine teeth looked good but the molars were quite worn so apparently it was an older bear,” she said. “It had normal levels of fat so it wasn’t starving.”
ADFG took DNA samples from the bear’s hair that could be compared to DNA from any saliva potentially found on Weaver. Tissue samples of different organs were also taken to test for disease or parasites, Harms said. Rabies tests on the dead bear will be performed on Monday at the state virology lab in Fairbanks, she said.
ADFG also took measurements of the bear’s skull and teeth patterns to compare it with any wounds found on the victim, Harms said.
“Hopefully the evidence we collect will help determine if this particular bear was involved,” she said.
Weaver’s body was transported to the state medical examiner in Anchorage for an autopsy.
“We’re not going to be able to confirm this was the bear until results of the autopsy are done,” Harms said. “The medical examiner will determine exactly what killed (Weaver). If an animal was involved, the medical examiner will collect samples of saliva, measurements of bites and that kind of information and we would compare what we collect to that.”
Maulings by black bears are uncommon compared to grizzlies 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 she was aware of two other fatal maulings by black bears, one in the 1960s and one in the 1950s.
“It’s unusual but its not unprecedented” Harms said. “Attacks by black bears are more rare than attacks by grizzlies.”
Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.