'Aggressive' bear that killed Alaskan hiker mauls member of his search party

PHOTO: 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. PlayAP Photo
WATCH Urgent hunt for dangerous bear in Alaska

Police in Alaska are searching for an "aggressive" brown bear that they believe killed a hiker who went missing this week and later attacked a member of the search party that was out looking for him, authorities said.

Officers discovered the remains of the missing hiker, Michael Soltis, in a wooded area in Anchorage on Wednesday, not far from where the volunteer searcher was attacked, according to the Anchorage Police Department. Investigators said the attacks were most likely carried out by the same bear.

Police have not released the search party volunteer’s identity, but they said he was seriously injured while searching for Soltis, 44, who disappeared Monday evening while hiking.

The officers discovered his body as they were searching for the bear, the department said.

"Shortly after the attack, officers entered the woods to search for the bear," the department said in a statement. "It is at that time they located missing person Michael Soltis who died as a result of a bear attack. It appears the brown bear was protecting the body when it attacked a member of the search party."

The wounded volunteer was taken to a nearby hospital with "serious" but non-life threatening injuries, including to at least one leg, police said.

The police department urged people to people to avoid the area "due to the aggressive bear," which was still at large late Wednesday.

Ken Marsh, a spokesman for Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the agency is investigating whether the bear attack was predatory or defensive.

"A person could have tripped and fell or had a medical condition," he told the Associated Press. "Until a full investigation and medical examination is done, I don't know that we can say necessarily, for sure, 100 percent, the cause of death."

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