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The search for a missing man in Alaska ended Wednesday when his body was found in the forest, apparently the victim of a bear attack. Forty-four-year-old Michael Soltis from Eagle River was last was seen on Monday evening in the area of Hiland Road in Anchorage he went for a hike. Since he was reported missing, a search party had been combing the forest where he was last seen.

Second Bear Attack Victim

At 10:30 Wednesday morning, a search party volunteer was attacked by a brown bear near the same area last Soltis was last seen. Shortly after that attack, Anchorage police located the body of Soltis. They say died as a result of a bear attack. “It appears the brown bear was protecting the body when it attacked a member of the search party,” police said in a statement.

The animal was not immediately found. Authorities were asking people to stay away from the wooded area. Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game searched for the animal earlier on Wednesday. As of 4 pm that day no one was in the field but biologists, said department spokesman Ken Marsh.

“We believe the bear that attacked the volunteer was the one that attacked and killed the missing man,” said Anchorage police spokesman M.J. Thim. Authorities removed Soltis’ body, and posted bear warning signs on a small footpath leading from the road to the woods.

Alaska Fish and Game spokesman Marsh said agency representatives were investigating at the site to determine whether the bear attack was predatory or a defensive action, such as guarding bear cubs or a food cache like a dead moose.

The search party volunteer who was mauled is expected to survive, police added.

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