3 men face federal charges for approaching bears eating in Brooks River at Katmai National Park

David Engleman is seen in this still image from a live camera of Brooks Falls photographing...
David Engleman is seen in this still image from a live camera of Brooks Falls photographing bears at the falls on Aug. 9, 2018.(National Park Service)
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 2:03 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Three men face federal charges for stepping into a closed area of Brooks River at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park to capture up-close photographs of brown bears in the river.

The incident happened in 2018, according to a press release from the U.S District Attorney’s Office of the District of Alaska.

On Aug. 9, 2018, 56-year-old David Engelman of Sandia Park, New Mexico; 54-year-old Ronald J. Engleman II of King Salmon; and 30-year-old Steven Thomas of King Salmon allegedly “left the authorized Brooks Falls viewing platform” and jumped into the Brooks River to approach brown bears “feeding on and in the Brooks River just below the falls,” according to the press release.

The national park is a “safe zone” for the numerous bears that roam the Brooks Camp area, requiring visitors to follow specific rules and regulations to protect any bears or people. The release stated the men created a “hazardous condition” when the they allegedly “came within 50 yards of the brown bears.”

The three men were recently charged with creating a hazardous condition in a closed area and approaching within 50 yards of brown bears. If convicted, they could each face a maximum sentence of six months in prison, a $5,000 fine and a year of probation, according to the release.

The National Park Service is still investigating the case.

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