Bicyclist survives run-in with bear

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A man on his morning commute to work on his bicycle was attacked by a brown bear in a city park, though he wasn’t seriously injured.

Sean Berkey, 45, played dead and the bear moved on, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He was able to continue biking several miles to the nearest hospital, the Alaska Native Medical Center, said Fish and Game spokesman Rick Sinnott.

Berkey’s ear was torn and he suffered several puncture wounds to his calf, Sinnott said. “She slapped him around,” Sinnott said.

The attack occurred at 5:30 a.m. local time in Far North Bicentennial Park, on the edge of Alaska’s largest city, near the spot where a teenage bicycle racer was severely mauled by a bear in 2008.

This time, the bear was a small sow with a cub, Sinnott said. “It sounds like a classic brown bear defensive attack,” he said.

Trails cross through hilly, wooded terrain between the city and the nearby Chugach Mountains, and black and brown, or grizzly, bears are not uncommon in the area this time of year.

The bear and bicyclist encountered each other unexpectedly and very quickly. Berkey was going fast on the trail, turned a corner and spotted the bear on the path less than 20 yards away from him, Sinnott said. It seemed that the bear had just crossed the small footbridge, he said.

Berkey braked quickly, and tried to put his bicycle between him and the bear but the bear still got to him, Sinnott said.

“He did everything he was supposed to do right,” Sinnott said of Berkey playing dead.

After the initial attack, Berkey waited then lifted his head to see if the bear was still there. It was. The bear became agitated again and Berkey put his head down again and played dead again, Sinnott said. He then waited several minutes before getting on his bike again.

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