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forwarded by AAF Correspondent: S.M.

from The Associated Press

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HOME   Alaska Hiker Killed by Bear

Wednesday, May 26, 1999

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Filed at 10:18 p.m. EDT

By The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A man on a day hike in a rural area was killed when a bear bit his head, Alaska State Troopers said Wednesday.

Kenneth Cates, 53, was found Wednesday morning on a horse trail in a heavily wooded area of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near his hometown of Soldotna.

The attack happened about six miles off a busy road. The area is about 60 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The fatal mauling is thought to have happened Tuesday.

His only visible wound was a single bite to the head, said Bruce Bartley, a spokesman for the state Division of Wildlife Conservation.

State and federal wildlife officials were looking for the bear involved in the attack. If the bear is judged to pose a continuing threat to humans it may be killed.

Troopers said Cates' .280-caliber rifle and two spent shell casings were found near the body, along with traces of blood that suggest that Cates may have wounded the animal.

``We don't know if one was a warning shot and one real, or if there were two real shots,'' Bartley said.

Cates' death is the first fatal bear mauling in Alaska since Feb. 8, 1998, when Audelio Luis Cortes, 40, was killed while working on a seismic crew in the Swanson River oil field near Kenai. Cortes also died from a single head bite.

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