They Sidestepped Disaster With Bears, Now Are Charged

3 men accused of leaving authorized platform in Alaska to get closer to bears in 2018
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2021 4:40 PM CDT
They Sidestepped Disaster With Bears, Now Are Charged
A stock photo that's actually not too different from the real thing.   (Getty Images)

They didn't lose their lives, but it's possible they could temporarily lose their freedom. The New York Times reports three men who exited an authorized viewing platform in Alaska in 2018 to get close to a group of wild brown bears have now been federally charged. Authorities say David J. Engelman, 56; Ronald J. Engelman II, 54; and Steven R. Thomas, 30, were at Katmai National Park and Preserve on Aug. 8 of that year when they moved from the elevated platform to a river that the bears were in. The US attorney’s office for the District of Alaska said they came within 150 feet of the bears while they were eating, creating "a hazardous condition."

KTUU reports the men took photos of the bears in the Brooks River; it has a still photo from a live camera on the scene that reportedly shows Engelman in the water. As the park's superintendent put it in 2018, "These visitors are lucky that they escaped the situation without injury. The possible consequences for the bears and themselves could have been disastrous." Park rangers learned of the men's alleged movements in the restricted area the following day from people who were watching the bears via livestream, reports USA Today. If convicted, the men could face up to six months in prison, a $5,000 fine, and a year of probation. (More brown bear stories.)

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