ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The grizzly bear stares at the camera with a look that appears ominous in the last photograph snapped by Richard White just before the animal mauled him to death in Alaska's Denali National Park.
The photo is among 26 snapshots of the male bear taken in an eight-minute time frame by the 49-year-old San Diego backpacker Friday afternoon. National Park Service investigators are scrutinizing the images, hoping to gain a better understanding of the attack as well as confirm estimates based on the photos that the bear was between 40 and 50 yards from White.
"Definitely way too close," chief park ranger Pete Webster said Monday.
The photos have not been released. Park officials are trying to determine if the photos are in the public realm or belong to White's family, which has asked that the photos not be made public. Several media organizations, including The Associated Press and the Anchorage Daily News, are seeking the photos under public records requests.
White's death is the first known fatal bear mauling in the park's nearly century-long history.
Most of the photographs show the bear head-down and grazing alongside the Toklat River gravel bar, seemingly unaware of a human's presence, according to Pete Webster. The last five photos span about 15 seconds, beginning with the bear lifting its head, no longer foraging. The grizzly then looks toward the camera, then moves a couple yards closer.