Bear euthanized after woman, child injured at Elkmont Campground

The bear that ripped into a tent and injured a mother and daughter has been euthanized, according to a news release
Elkmont Campground officials advise using storing food and even water properly to help keep bears away. (Source: WVLT)
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 10:28 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2022 at 1:32 PM EDT
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SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - The bear that ripped into a tent and injured a mother and daughter at the Elkmont Campground was euthanized, officials with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced in a news release.

Wildlife biologists with the park captured the bear after an investigation. The bear’s behavior was consistent with being food-conditioned as the animal walked into the trap laid by the biologists without fear.

“The bear weighed approximately 350 pounds, which is not standard for this time of year, suggesting the bear had previous and likely consistent access to non-natural food sources,” said Lisa McInnis, Chief of Resource Management. “In this incident, the bear was likely attracted to food smells throughout the area, including dog food at the involved campsite. It is very difficult to deter this learned behavior and, as in this case, the result can lead to an unacceptable risk to people.”

The bear was found after park officials identified its tracks and tracked its location. The description given by the family attacked at the campsite matched the bear they caught, so the wildlife biologists deemed this bear to be responsible for the attack.

Human-bear conflicts peak in late May and June when berries and other natural foods are not available, so bears are drawn to garbage and food smells in the area, such as the campgrounds and picnic areas.

Although bear attacks are rare, they can occur. Park officials advised people attacked by a black bear should fight back with the nearest object as the bear will likely view the person as prey.

The park officials reminded campers and visitors of the park to store any food or garbage properly and to take other precautions during this time.

The GSMNP has a list of steps you can take to protect bears; view those here. Park officials also recommend reporting visitors that break bear guidelines, which you can do here.

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