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ANCHORAGE - Warren Hancock thought he was going for a pleasant morning jog before work, but it turned into a frightening experience when a brown bear charged him twice as he ran along a trail in east Anchorage.
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"I thought for sure I was getting taken down," said Hancock of the close encounter, which happened Tuesday morning near Campbell Creek Science Center parking lot in Far North Bicentennial Park.
It's that time of year, when the creeks are thick with salmon and the bears come calling.
"Bears are very familiar with the salmon cycle, so it's going to be a real attractant," said state wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott.
Bears frequent Bicentennial Park this time of year, especially along the north and south forks of Campbell Creek. Sinnott said the salmon are several weeks late coming into the Anchorage Bowl this year because of lower temperatures.
Construction crews working on the Bragaw extension at Abbott Loop Road also reported seeing two black bears and one brown bear crisscrossing the area this past week.
"I didn't hear or see anything," Hancock said of the bear that charged him.
An avid trail runner, Hancock left his home near Service High School for a routine run through the park when he startled the bruin in the long grass about 20 feet from the trail.
"Suddenly I saw this head pop up on the creek side of the trail," he said. The bear charged without hesitating. With no time to think, Hancock stopped dead, raised his arms and began yelling.
The bear pulled up 6 feet short of him and veered off, turned back and charged a second time before stopping only feet away.
Hancock said the bear then walked about 30 feet into the woods, hesitated, and bolted toward the creek. "I couldn't see him," he said, "but I could hear him crashing through the woods, and then he crossed the creek."
Sinnott said Hancock did the right thing. "The worst thing you can do is run, especially if they're chasing you," Sinnott said. He advises people to shout and wave their arms, anything to prove to the bear that you are not a moose or another bear.
"Bicentennial Park is still a safe place to recreate, Sinnott said. "You just have to be careful walking in and around salmon streams."
Information from: Anchorage Daily News, http://www.adn.com