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'Tripawed' the three-pawed bear returns to Denali National Park

Pat Owen / National Park Service

This three-pawed bear was first spotted in Alaska's Denali National Park last year.

A three-pawed grizzly bear affectionately known as "Tripawed" is back in public view at Alaska's Denali National Park, after it was first spotted last year with a bloody stump where its right front foot had been.

"He's got a really funny gait," park biologist Pat Owen told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "He kind of hops around."

At least so far, the bear doesn't seem to be a threat to park visitors. "It does not seem interested in camper food," park spokeswoman Kris Fister told msnbc.com. "It has only been observed doing normal bear things, i.e. digging for roots, etc."


Owen said it's not clear how the bear lost its paw, but the wound appears to have completely healed.

"It was a really clean cut, which leads part of me to believe it might not be a trap accident," she said. "We have no idea what happened."

The bear "showed up two weeks ago along the (park) highway," Owen added. "He's been very visible. A lot of people have seen him already."

The park considered euthanizing Tripawed last year, but Owen contacted some of her peers and was told bears missing appendages isn't that uncommon, so he was left alone.

Last weekend, the bear showed up at a vacant campground but officials won't be doing anything just yet to move him out.

"For now we'll let him do his thing and see what happens," Owen said. "He seems to get along just fine."

Tourist season officially begins on May 20, and if the bear is still around then the park will probably put up signs about the bear to avoid having to answer the same questions over and over, Owen said.

As for tracking the bear, Owen said "he’s pretty identifiable. I don’t think we need a radio collar to keep track of him."

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