Hiker in Alaska Killed After Taking Close-Up Pictures of a Grizzly Bear

This past Friday wasn’t a good day for photographers. On the same day that one wedding photographer saw his client drown in a freak accident during a trash the dress shoot, a man hiking in Alaska was mauled to death by a grizzly bear after getting too close to it with his camera.

The hiker, identified as 49-year-old Richard White of San Diego, stumbled upon the bear while backpacking along the Toklat River in Denali National Park.

After spotting the bear, he walked closer instead of retreating to a safe distance. Although the park rules require at least a quarter-mile of separation between hikers and bears, White got within 50 yards of the bear and spent 8 minutes taking pictures of it with his digital camera.

The details of what happened were pieced together by investigators after discovering the body, killing the bear, and locating the camera. The photos on the memory card showed images of the bear grazing peacefully prior to the attack.

If you’re hiking the wilderness and hunting for once-in-a-lifetime wildlife photographs, remember that wildlife has the word “wild” in it for a reason.

(via Washington Post)

Image credit: Grizzly bear in Denali National Park by sibin

  • Matty

    Gotta love commonsense.

  • PR

    And for that the bear dies..

  • Fireboot

    Regrettable though they are, both of these incidents were easy to foresee and avoid. A few moment taken for risk or threat assessment would have prevented both incidents either by withdrawing or putting in place safety measures to meet the actual rather than perceived risks. As a photographer with 30 years experience in critical incident management, it amazes me that many people pick up a camera and put down their common sense. We have a duty of due care to both our clients and our families. In the words of Sergeant Phil Esterhaus: “Hey, let’s be careful out there”

  • Paulo Nunes

    That should make Ken Rockwell think about his position about getting close being better than zooming.

  • Kaitlin Bledsoe

    It seems to me like your opening paragraph is placing the blame on the photographer for his client drowning. I’m not sure how many other people feel the same way, but I encourage you to rephrase the paragraph, as multiple news sources have stated that it was the Brides idea to do the ‘trash the dress’ shoot; and the location was her choice as well.

    Thus, your sentence, “On the same day that one wedding photographer had his client drown during a trash the dress shoot, a man hiking in Alaska was mauled to death by a grizzly bear after getting too close to it with his camera.” doesn’t seem to be objective, nor truthful.

    I would suggest rephrasing it to: “On the same day that a wedding photographers client drowned during a trash the dress shoot, a man….etc.” It sounds much less like you’re placing the blame on the photographer this way, and is from an objective standpoint (not placing the blame on any one person).

  • Beagle Eagle

    Darwin Strikes Again!

  • Jan Jashute

    He’s on a roll this week!

  • Douglas Adams

    Between that bride and this buffoon, I really hope this isn’t the month Infinidim Enterprises are sizing up Earth for the Hitchiker’s Guide

  • Zak Henry

    Might be upgraded to “Mostly self-harming”

  • Michael Zhang

    Hmm. Tweaked it a bit, thanks.

  • Chris Popely

    ‘The details of what happened were pieced together by investigators after discovering the body, killing the bear, and locating the camera.’

    Why, why kill the bear? Amazing, absolutely amazing. It’s a wild bear, it’s born to kill, why does it need to be shot for killing one, lets face it, stupid photographer?

    What a waste of two lives.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    literally cannot believe they killed the bear – man get’s killed for being moronic yet the bear is killed for, essentially, no reason whatsoever

  • Cretonists Abound

    Two people think Darwin was wrong. Let there be light!

  • Kaitlin Bledsoe

    :) Just thought I’d point it out.

  • TedCrunch

    Those bears can outrun any human. The price of ignorance can be heavy. I guess the photographer didn’t read the park rules; they’re not there for nothing. And the bear dies for man’s ignorance.

  • Sam Agnew

    I assume the people questioning why the bear was killed live in cities. Think about it. People come to Denali to hike in the wilderness where the bears are. You can’t outrun them, you can’t fight them, you can’t even kill them with most handguns. Your only defense is your knowledge of how to keep a safe distance and profile and the bears’ natural aversion to humans. Once a bear has feasted on humans, however stupid the reason, you clearly have to eliminate that bear for the safety of every other human in the park.


  • Chris Popely

    Oh right yeah, of course, how silly of us, you’re absolutely right. Once a bear has tasted human he’ll abandon his natural diet and every hunter, fisherman and photog will look like a walking, talking Mars Bar.

  • shoot 35

    why kill the bear. the only thing deserving of deth was killed, the stupid photographer.
    the world has too many stupid people in it already but not nearly enough wildlife.

  • shoot 35

    when I wanted better wildlife shots out of my eos 1v I just bought a 600mm f4l. not sure why you would go out in the field without proper gear anyhow. guess you get what you deserve when you don’t buy the right gear.

  • Jon

    Some Darwin Award Winning photos…

  • Jon

    They have to. While they will not switch to a diet of humans, they will attack again. Second, leaving it out in the wild makes the park liable then. The latter stems from a case in Arizona where a bear attacked a brownie scout and was merely relocated (the girl suffered minor injuries). The bear came back to the campsite in spite of being relocated and killed a 16yo girl. Her parents sued for $15M and won $2.5M in a settlement because they established that wildlife officials should have either euthanized the bear or relocated it further away.

  • Aditya

    Actually, that’s exactly what could happen – the bear discovers that humans are easier to kill than it’s natural prey and decides to switch diets. This is rare and normally means a shortage of the natural prey, or the bear is wounded and unable to hunt normally. I guess they just didn’t want to take the risk of waiting for a second attack to find out.

    Don’t get me wrong here, I wish the bear wasn’t killed too.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    There is no excuse for killing an animal for mistakes made by humans. Of course they will attack again – if they have to. It’s not malicious or out of some kind of vendetta towards humans, they do what they do because they are an apex predator. Ignorance towards animals is what wiped out the wolf populations during the European colonisation of north America – they are only just making a come back and people are killing them all over again because of ignorance and fear.

    That bear had made a kill, most likely because it felt threatened by the hiker being in such close proximity, afterwards that’s his meal – he was then protecting his meal – and for that he was killed. The bear didn’t have to be killed, he could’ve been tranquillized if the trooper was only there to recover the hikers body. But no, he killed the bear. The reason that hiker is dead is because of human error – the reason the bear is dead is because of human error.

    We have no right to kill them because of mistakes that we make. plain and simple.

  • Mr. T in DC

    Add me to the list of people who thinks the bear (or shark, or lion, or whatever) should NOT be killed simply for having attacked or killed a human. I call BS on those who claim the animal will then totally abandon their natural diet and go on a bloody rampage against humans from that point on. Such killings are pure retaliation in a primitive, barbaric fashion, an eye for an eye, and we need to move beyond that as a species.

  • Brian Ricasata Sahagun

    …and it shouldn’t be a “one-in-a-lifetime” chance.

  • Brian Ricasata Sahagun

    In this circumstance, a human life becomes more important than the animal’s.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    He was already dead. It’s not like the trooper was there when the bear attacked and he tried to save the hiker. There was no reason to kill the bear at all. Life is life – none more important than another, when the majority realise this maybe we can move forward as a species.

  • Atlanta Owner

    When hiking in Grizzly country, you really shouldn’t do it alone, or frankly, even just as a pair, as Grizzlies WILL attack two people (but rarely more than two at once). You can’t live in fear, but you should use common sense and be prepared, like to carry Bear Mace (readily available), and to not harass them if you see them – and staying stationary while they’re eating and watching them IS harassing them in their eyes.

  • Macro james

    Maybe he uses 28 mm and decide to get a close up shots??

  • Jon

    Read what I posted again Adam.. especially the part about what happened in Arizona.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    so you’re saying we should tar every bear with the same brush? – I don’t think anyone has the right to sue anyone because someone got killed by a wild animal (they should sue for the lack of education given to the girls – I’m sure deaths can be prevented if people stay away from wild animals) and of course the animal came back, wild animals tend to know where their territory is. Human’s decided to put a camp site there, they should be prepared for the consequences.

  • 600mm

    Cool story, bro

  • Sergei Zhukov

    Once the bear tries human flesh, it becomes his preferable meal, which is quite easy to kill. The bear will never be the same and will hunt humans

  • Ripley

    Dude should’ve had a zoom lens. I photographed some wildlife over the summer, and I don’t have a zoom lens (can’t afford it, poor uni student here), but being in NZ the worst that happened to me was I got chased by a small, harmless, flightless bird…

  • Benjamin

    “Your only defense is your knowledge of how to keep a safe distance and profile and the bears’ natural aversion to humans”.
    Not quite. There’s Bear Spray (pepper spray on steroids) which not only stops a bear attack but discourages the bear from trying it again.

  • Mansgame

    If the choice is between a cute wild bear who was only doing what wild bears do and a human life, I would shoot that bear in between the eyes every single time.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    It’s not about bears being cute – but your comment just shows humanity’s over blown sense of entitlement. People seem to think they are some how better than animals. The point here is the hiker was already dead when the trooper arrived, there was no need whatsoever to kill that bear.

  • Mansling

    Next time you find yourself in that position, could you post a video of the bear trying to mate with you after you drop the gun in terror? I bet that might provide a bit of the old entertainment for us, no?

  • Chris Popely

    Well that’s ironic, because seeing as there are more than six billion of you on the planet, I’d rather shoot you in between the eyes.

    Less of a loss that way, if you get my meaning.


    why did they kill the bear though, for a human being an idiot and a bear just doing what bears do. they might as well kill all the bears if t hats the care. smh

  • Matt

    This is a grizzly that is being discussed, not a small black bear. Bear spray will not do anything to a grizzly.

  • Matt

    Yes, a grizzly will remember the area and game as an easy meal. It is a survival instinct to remember that info.
    I also wish the bear did not have to die.

  • Matt

    I too wish the bear could have lived. But, so sorry historical and behavioral facts are such a problem for you. Your type of attitude will only increase the likely hood of more wildlife dying because they attacked a human that “knew” better than everyone else.
    Get a clue and help promote responsible behavior on the part of humans.

  • Matt

    No matter how much you want wild life to be like disney, it just does not work that way. Any wild animal will remember an easy meal, and is much more likely to repeat a easy meal. More so if the animal is not in its prime. It is just a survial mechanism. No amount of denial will change that.
    Want to keep wild life from being killed like this? The only way is to keep morons out of the woods. Promote responsible hiking/camping.

  • Lana R.

    Poor sod. What a incomprehensibly horrifying way to go.

  • t_linn

    I can think of two reasons why the photog in question didn’t just buy a 600mm f/4: They cost about as much as a used car; and they weigh only slightly less. Just sayin’…

  • Nobody

    Leave it up to a Californian to get himself mauled by a bear and get the bear killed. Darwin award, you win the title.

  • Nobody

    You sir, don’t know wtf you’re talking about.

  • Chris Keth

    That is such a crock of sh**. Meat is meat. They’re not going to insatiably hunt man. You’ve seen too many movies.

  • Eno Lanois

    For goodness sakes people, the bear wasn’t killed based solely on what it might do next (change diet, kill again, etc.) – the bear was killed primarily based on what other *humans* would do *if* the bear did strike again – humans would sue other humans. Your argument should be about human behavior, not bear behavior.