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Geographical Index > United States > Alaska > Southeast Fairbanks County > Report # 9317
Report # 9317  (Class A)
Submitted by witness on Monday, September 13, 2004.
Driver on Alcan Highway has noon, road encounter near Alaska-Canada border

YEAR: 2004

SEASON: Summer


DATE: Friday, 18th

STATE: Alaska

COUNTY: Southeast Fairbanks County

LOCATION DETAILS: We were traveling westbound when the animal was sighted, standing at treeline on slight rise south of eastbound lane of highway. We continued travel westbound several miles and pulled into a rest stop on the south side of the highway. To fix a better location we were approx. 30-45 minutes west of Alaskan/Canadian Border, westbound and several miles after seeing animal, we stopped at a rest stop on the south side of the highway. Hope this helps. Also, for what it may be worth, several local natives were having lunch there and we shared what we saw with them. I believe one worked for the state road system as he was driving a state vehicle and another mentioned he was a state sponsored hunter for rogue bear. The hunter thought I had seen a grizzly, from the coloration, the height and the lack of a neck (he reasoned that the grizzly's hump, when viewed from behind could be mistakened for a head).

NEAREST TOWN: State Highway 30 - 45 minutes west of customs station Alaska/Canadian border.

NEAREST ROAD: Traveling westbound on Alcan Highway to Tok, Alaska. Had not reached Tetlin Junction.

OBSERVED: My daughter and I were traveling to Tok, Alaska, westbound approx. 30-45 minutes from US Customs at Alaskan/Canadian Boarder. We were towing a 27 ft. trailer and listening to music and enjoying the view. An object caught my eye standing in the treeline south of the eastbound lane. I saw something from the waist up reaching to a higher part of a white bark tree. I did a double take and slammed on the brakes and came to a complete stop. Whatever it was had its back to us and still was reaching up with its right arm. The animal was a beautiful blond/auburn coloration and appeared well groomed as I could see the waist and well developed shoulders that blended into the head. I didn't see a real neck. I made a mental note using the tree as a height measuring device. I reached for the camera and my daughter but when we left our truck the animal was gone. We returned to our truck and continued driving until we pulled into the rest stop mentioned above. I took a tape measure from the tool box and measured a similar looking white bark tree using my mental notes....The animal I saw stood at better than 9 ft with an overhead reach greater than 12 ft.

ALSO NOTICED: I did not hear any sounds and this was my first road trip in the area.

OTHER WITNESSES: Myself and daughter. We were listening to music, talking and just enjoying the sights and view while driving.

OTHER STORIES: The hunter mentioned above seemed to think it might have been a grizzly....I do not know if it were a bear or not. What ever we saw was very large, tall > 9 ft, with a tremendous reach.

I'm now very sorry, that I did not take the time to walk the treeline while we were stopped at the side of the roadway. I now wonder what we saw ?

TIME AND CONDITIONS: Late morning between 11am and noon. Bright sunny day, dry and clear. Rare vehicle traffic on highway as we didn't see our first passing car until the junction at Tetlin.

ENVIRONMENT: White bark trees [Aspen?] lined the treeline both west and east bound roadways. Slight knoll/rise with white barked trees in area where we saw animal.

Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Dr. Wolf H. Fahrenbach:

The witness' comments concerning the broad shoulders of the animal effectively rule out the alternative explanation of grizzly bear. It "froze" as the car passed. He repeatedly mentioned its "magnificent" appearance and glossy, groomed coat shining in the sun. The highway is bordered in this region to the east by totally trackless low mountains (up to 4,000' +) and to the west by the enormous Tetlin National Wildlife refuge. The latter adjoins the road with approximately 700 square miles of swamps and untold thousands of lakes.