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Bear suspect in hiker death

A missing hiker was found dead Wednesday near the site where a member of his search party was mauled by a bear outside of Alaska's largest city.

Anchorage police said the same brown bear appears to be responsible for attacks on the missing man, Michael Soltis, and the volunteer searcher, whose name was not released.

"We believe the bear that attacked the volunteer was the one that attacked and killed the missing man," police spokesman MJ Thim said.

The animal was not immediately found, and authorities were asking people to stay away from the wooded area.

Anchorage police said officers searching for the bear after the Wednesday morning attack found Soltis' body near the end of a rural, paved mountainous road dotted with well-appointed homes in the Eagle River area. Thim said the site was a couple hundred yards off the road, located in mountainous terrain networked with hiking trails.

It appeared the bear had been protecting Soltis' body when the male searcher was attacked, according to police. The searcher, who was taken to a hospital, had serious injuries to the leg but he was expected to survive, police said.

Authorities removed Soltis' body and posted bear warning signs on a small footpath leading from the road to the woods.

Soltis was last seen near Eagle River on Monday afternoon.

Alaska Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said agency representatives were investigating at the site to determine whether the bear attack was predatory or a defensive action, such as guarding bear cubs or a food cache like a dead moose.



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