Bear mauling closes portion of national park in Alaska

A female camper was attacked by a bear on Thursday, prompting the National Park Service to close a portion of the Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska, according to local newspapers and the Associated Press.

The park service said the woman's injuries were not life-threatening and the bear probably was a grizzly. The NPS did not identify the woman.

Gates of the Arctic National Park is located in northwestern Alaska, in a "remote wilderness area located above the Arctic Circle and far from any roads. Most visitors access the park and preserve by bush plane," according to the NPS.

The woman, part of a group of seven hikers, was attacked in the early morning at her camp site in the Okokmilaga River drainage. The area closed is west of Anaktuvuk Pass.

It is believed that the bear had gone through the campsite in search of food and after it could not get into the campers' food stash, which was being kept in "bear barrels," the bear wandered into the woman's tent. Bear barrels are containers for food that the NPS suggests all hikers and backpackers use to ward off the potential for bears to become acclimated to human food.

The NPS website for the park, www.nps.gov/gaar, contains a section on bear safety, cautioning visitors to "be alert at all times, in all places" and that "food conditioned bears (bears that have become accustomed to human food and petroleum-based products, such as fuel and bug repellent in aerosol cans) can present a hazard to people traveling in the backcountry."

Since the park is in such a remote location, the closure is not expected to displace other visitors.

Earlier this month, a female hotel worker at the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge suffered non-fatal injuries after being mauled by a bear. Also, a trail in Far North Bicentennial Park, near Anchorage, was closed due to recent bear activity.

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