4 bears killed as part of bear attack investigation

State wildlife department employees have killed four bears near the remote area in south-central Alaska where authorities say a man was fatally mauled last week.

The state Department of Fish and Game on Thursday said preliminary analyses of DNA and other evidence link a female brown bear and a female black bear to the site and the victim. Officials initially believed a brown bear was involved, based on early evidence.

Alaska State Troopers have identified the man as 46-year-old Daniel Schilling of Hope.

The incident occurred July 29. Troopers said Schilling was reported to have been clearing a trail about a mile behind his property. He was late returning home and his dog returned without him. His body, with wounds consistent with a bear attack, was found by family and friends in the area in which he had been working, troopers said.

The Department of Fish and Game said an empty canister of bear repellent spray was found and appeared to have been discharged at the site. No one saw what happened, and nothing that could have attracted a bear, such as a food cache or animal carcass, was found in the area, the department said.

A female brown bear and three female black bears were killed by department employees Wednesday near the site, and samples taken from them will be analyzed as part of the investigation, the department said.

“We may never know exactly what happened but we’re doing the best we can to understand what circumstances led up to this attack,” said Cyndi Wardlow, a regional supervisor with the department.