After brown bear mauled him, fisherman drove to get help

A brown bear charged and mauled a Nikiski fisherman Tuesday night near the Swanson River, dragging the man 30 feet and tearing his scalp, his family says.

William Pfendler, 37, was recovering Wednesday in the emergency room at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna, where he recounted the attack to his mother, Cindy Pfendler, over the phone.

"He said he could feel the top of his head was off and he could feel his scalp, just flapping," said Cindy Pfendler, who lives in the upstate New York town of Boonville.

Troopers said Pfendler suffered bite wounds to his head, arms and legs. The injuries were not life-threatening, troopers said. Pflender made no mention of broken bones and the bear did not puncture his skull, according to his mother.

The mauling was reported to troopers at 9 p.m.

Kenai area wildlife biologist Jeff Selinger placed the attack several hundred yards upstream from where the river meets the Kenai Spur Highway, north of Nikiski.

Cindy Pfendler said her son lives in New York state but bought land in Nikiski and has been building a home in the Peninsula town this summer. He was finishing a day of fishing and walking back to his vehicle near the Swanson River when the adult brown bear charged him, according to troopers.

At some point the fisherman might have shot at the bear, his mother said.

"He don't know if he hit it or not," Cindy Pfendler said.

After the bear dragged him about 30 feet, Pfendler curled into a ball to protect himself, she said.

Troopers say Pfendler was able to walk to his vehicle and drive himself to a Nikiski firehouse, from where he was taken to the Soldotna hospital.

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