ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - The body of a man who had been killed and partially eaten by a bear was discovered over the weekend on an island near the southeast Alaska city of Sitka, local police and state officials said on Monday
The victim was tentatively identified as 54-year-old Tomas Puerta, who left Sitka for Chichagof Island, west of Juneau, on Thursday afternoon and was reported missing after he hadn’t returned by Sunday.
The partially consumed body was found later on Sunday on the southern part of the heavily forested island after boaters reported an aggressive sow bear with cubs near an unattended skiff, Sitka police said in a statement.
Authorities have sent the body to the state Medical Examiner’s Office to get further information, including a confirmed cause of death and positive identification, said Lieutenant Barry Allen of the Sitka Police Department.
Authorities were trying to find the animal or animals responsible to “dispose of those bears involved,” he said. In this case, the bear or bears that killed the man are considered to be more likely to repeat the action, he said
“Likely, any bear that gets killed would be examined to try and confirm that the right bear was caught,” he said.
Larsen said state officials do not usually kill bears that maul humans in acts of defense. But bears that are considered predatory or dangerous are killed, he said. Judgments are made on a case-by-case basis, he said.
“If it’s just not clear, it tends to be our practice to take the animal, if we have some reasonable assurance that we’re dealing with the animal involved,” he said.
Larsen said the Chichagof Island death was the first fatal bear attack in southeast Alaska since 2000.
Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler