Society

Bearing Arms vs Bears: Alaskan Stops Bear Attack with AK-74

| by Dabney Bailey
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An unidentified hiker has an AK-74 to thank for surviving a would-be bear attack on Turnagain Arm trail near Anchorage, Alaska.

According to Park Ranger Tom Crockett, the hiker spotted the bear with its backside to him, at which he called out “Hey, bear” in order to alert the animal to his presence without startling it. Crockett added, “Surprising a bear is usually the worst thing you can do.” 

This bear must have been particularly jumpy, because it turned and allegedly charged at the man. The hiker was forced to open fire with his AK-74. The hiker reported that the bear faltered after the first round of shots before making another charge. The hiker shot it again and ended the animal’s life.

Crockett said, “[The hiker] told me he’s never been so scared in his life.”

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That’s hardly surprising considering the bear’s size. Crockett estimated that the bear weighed between 500 to 600 pounds. It also had a nasty a scar on its head, likely from a confrontation with another bear.

It’s a common practice for Alaskan hikers to carry weapons in order to protect themselves from the beasts of the Alaskan wilderness. “Most people carry something larger caliber,” Crockett added.

Alaskan hikers might have even greater reason to carry weapons with them the next time they step outside. Park rangers were unable to remove the bear’s carcass due to the thick terrain, which means that the rotting meat will likely attract other bears. “This guy is going to get recycled by nature,” Crockett added.

Until then, Alaskan hikers should steer clear.  “My fingers are going to be crossed that a trail runner doesn’t just blow through the warning signs, thinking, 'Oh, it’ll be OK this time.’”

Another brown bear was killed earlier this season in Chugiak, which is a short drive northeast of Anchorage.

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