A powerful search for the bear had been on since Sunday. While some details about what ensued are unknown, park rangers and race officials believe Cooper got off-trail while descending from the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb race U-turn point on Bird Ridge and sent a message to family by phone that he was being chased by a black bear. Park rangers and biologists have said the bear’s behaviour at the scene specifies a rare predatory attack.
After a ground search in steep, brushy terrain attested futile, biologists used hired aircraft to search from the sky starting Tuesday afternoon, Marsh said. A fixed-wing airplane was used to spot for lone adult black bears in an area stretching from the Bird Creek drainage to ice fields above the edge itself, said Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh.
Biologists shot the lone adult males from a helicopter, then landed or were dropped in to see if each was the correct animal, Marsh said. He said darting animals in the problematic territory would have been unfeasible because bears often initially run when they are darted.
“The only real option in this state of affairs was to shoot the animal and collect it this way,” he said.