Man reunited with dog after escaping bear in Kluane National Park
Visitor went for run without awareness of grizzly dangers, separated from pet after bear encounter
A man from the Seattle area and his dog have been safely reunited after a bear charged them in Kluane National Park this week.
The incident happened late Tuesday afternoon, while the visitor was trail-running in a remote part of the Sheep Buillon Plateau area.
"He looked back behind him and at about 20 feet behind him he saw a bear charging toward him and his dog," said Craig McKinnon, resource conservation manager with Parks Canada.
McKinnon said the runner "fled the area," only to look "back and see his dog drop to the ground in a submissive pose and…. the bear was on top of his dog."
Kluane National Park and Reserve is home to a significant grizzly population. McKinnon says the trail runner was unaware of the region and had little experience in bear country.
"He didn't know that this was potentially a high-risk activity running quickly through wilderness trails in bushy areas and doing it quietly and just surprising, coming upon a bear," he said.
The visitor continued to flee after seeing the bear on top of his dog. He made it back to his vehicle unharmed, and returned to Haines Junction where he contacted police the next morning. McKinnon didn't know why the runner waited to report it.
Parks Canada completed an aerial search of the region looking for the bear and trying to determine why the bear charged the runner. The Bullion Plateau Trail has been closed since it happened.
Staff were not able to locate the bear but did find the runner's dog — a 70 pound female Rottweiler mix named Starbucks — sitting unharmed on a ridge. The dog and owner were reunited.
"He thought he had lost his dog, so once we were able to find the dog he was really happy."
Nevertheless, "he was pretty shaken up and as I understand it," said McKinnon. "He cancelled his trip to Alaska and decided to return home."
Parks Canada is reminding visitors to Kluane to be aware of bears, which means carrying bear spray and making noise in the backcountry. Dogs are also required to be on leash.