Missing hiker found alive two days after being charged by bears in Alaska

·2 min read
Two Alaskan brown bears. (Getty Images)
Two Alaskan brown bears. (Getty Images)

Authorities in Alaska have located Fina Kiefer, a 55-year-old hiker who went missing on Tuesday after being charged by bears.

Ms Kiefer called and texted her husband on Tuesday, described how she was run off the trail by bears in the Mat-Su Valley, north of Anchorage.

Search-and-rescue groups mobilised multiple teams, including searchers on foot, with dogs, and army and Alaska air national guard units, to find the woman, an active hiker.

As the search continued, it was clear Ms Kiefer was no longer on the trail. The search continued throughout Wednesday, until worsening weather conditions temporarily suspended the effort.

About an hour later, search-and-rescue volunteers spotted Ms Kiefer walking out of the woods, waving for help.

“She self-rescued,” Stephen Dunphy, the volunteer who saw her, told Alaska’s News Source.

He gave her food and took her back to a basecamp they had set up. She was later taken to hospital to be treated for injuries she sustained descending a mountain while she was lost.

“I’m glad that she’s safe, and I’d do it again,” Mr Dunphy added.

Once being rescued, she relayed the harrowing story of how she went missing.

During her hike, the presence of bears in the area repeatedly pushed her off trail. After one encounter, in which she used bear spray she’d been carrying, she realized she could no longer find the trail.

She spent the next two days wandering through the bush, until she connected with her rescuers, who found her cold and hungry after the bout of poor weather.

“I would just have to say that she is a remarkable lady that’s in very good shape and is very capable of taking care of herself,” Bill Laxson, of Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, told ANS.

Though many bears live in Alaska, attacks aren’t common.

“Many bears live in Alaska and many people enjoy the outdoors, but surprisingly few people see bears and only a few of those are ever threatened by a bear,” according to the state’s department of fish and game.

Most attacks are defensive, and hikers are advised not to run. Instead, they should lie on the ground, play dead, and cover the back of their necks with their hands, and most bears leave them alone once they believe the threat is over.

Only in rare instances do bears attack humans as a food source.

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