Hiker injured in Kachemak Bay State Park bear attack

A Homer man shot and killed a charging sow brown bear at Humpy Creek last Friday. Kim Woodman, 57, shot the bear five times with a 10mm handgun before the bear fell about 6 feet from him. While backing away from the sow, Woodman fell and accidentally shot himself in the left foot.

Woodman was able to get to his skiff and return to Homer, where he checked into the South Peninsula Hospital emergency room. Woodman had no injuries from the bear, said Jack Blackwell, area superintendent of Alaska State Parks, Kenai-Prince William Sound region.

Blackwell said Woodman surprised a brown bear with two cubs while hiking about 4 p.m. July 29 off the trail along the southwest fork of Humpy Creek in Kachemak Bay State Park. The bears were probably feeding on pink salmon in the creek. Woodman filled out a defense of life and property report, and Park Ranger Jason Okuly and Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jason Herreman went to the scene and found the dead sow bear. They reported the sow had two gunshot wounds, one below the right eye and one in the chest.

They recovered the skull and paws to prevent trophy looting. The carcass was about 6 feet from where Woodman tripped.

“It was fairly close,” Blackwell said.

Fish and Game Kenai Area biologist Jeff Selinger said the sow had been lactating, but it’s unknown if the sow had cubs of the year or older cubs. Older cubs would have a good chance of surviving, but younger cubs would not. Selinger said Fish and Game won’t make an effort to look for the cubs unless they hear reports of the cubs hanging out in the area. Biologists would have to be certain the cubs were orphaned and not another sow’s cubs.

“We care about the animals. The thing we want to avoid is making a bad situation worse,” Selinger said.

Selinger said this is the first defense of life bear shooting he knows of since 2002, when he began working for Fish and Game on the Kenai Peninsula. Black bears are more common in Kachemak Bay State Park.

People who shoot bears in self defense are normally required to salvage the hide and skull, but because Woodman was injured, he did not have to do so, Selinger said.

This is not Woodman’s first defense of life bear shooting. In September 1992 while moose hunting near Ohlson Mountain, he shot a brown bear Woodman said was stalking him. According to an Oct. 1, 1992, Homer News article, Woodman injured the bear with a rifle shot at close range and then killed it when the bullet failed to pierce the bear’s skull and it got up.

Woodman does not have a public phone number, and he did not return a Facebook message for comment.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.