Grizzly attacked hunters harvesting moose kill

A hunter killed in a grizzly bear attack at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve was salvaging meat from a moose hunt with his hunting partner when the attack occurred in an area of dense vegetation, park officials said.

The victim was identified as Austin Pfeiffer, 22, of Ohio. Park officials did not identify his hunting partner.

The Sept. 20 death was the first recorded fatal bear attack in the park since it was established in 1980, park officials said.

The attack occurred near the Cottonwood Creek drainage, an area of mixed tundra and forest lands with dense vegetation, as the hunters were salvaging meat from a moose harvested a day earlier. The National Park Service investigation determined this was a surprise attack and that the victim did not have available a defensive firearm or other deterrent, such as bear spray.

NPS officials were notified of the incident at about 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20.

Through coordination with a local air taxi service sed by the hunters, the NPS ensured the site was secure and that the victim’s hunting partner was safely evacuated from the area. The NPS coordinated with Alaska Wildlife Troopers to recover the victim’s body the following day and transport the body to the Alaska state Medical Examiner’s office in Anchorage.


Park rangers said they found no evidence that the bear remains in the area and no other park visitors are known to be in the immediate are of this extremely remote location, but the area will continue to be monitors for bear activity.

All meat from the moose was salvaged as required by state of Alaska hunting regulations, park officials said.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve was established under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and provides sport hunting opportunities on its preserve lands. Visitors, including hunters, are encouraged to be Bear Aware in the backcountry and take precautions such as carrying bear spray and using Bear Resistant Food Containers (BRFC). We also encourage hunters to read Bear Safety for Hunters at