Authorities say a bear was killed after breaking into a family tent and attacking a mother and her three-year-old daughter during a horrific encounter on a camping trip in the Smoky Mountains.
The family was at the Elkmont Campground when a 350-pound black bear broke into a tent containing a family of five and their dog, around 5:20 a.m. on Sunday, June 12.
The bear started scratching the three-year-old girl and her mother. The father managed to drive the bear away, but only after several attempts.
Mother and daughter had superficial wounds on their heads. The family left a note informing the park authorities about the incident and left the campground to seek medical help.
The campground informed park officials about the incident at around 8:50 am. Park rangers proceeded to cordon off the area. They interviewed the father and other campers to collect information that could lead them to the bears – such as the bear track.
Park officials believe the bear was attracted to the smell of food and suspect that it was attracted to the smell of dog food at the particular campsite the family was with them.
Bear’s behavior was consistent with that of a food-conditioned bear. It displayed a lack of fear of humans and voluntarily stepped into the trap set by the park staff.
After biologists were able to match and identify the bear, it was humanely euthanized on Monday, June 13.
“The bear weighed about 350 pounds, which is not the norm for this time of year, suggesting that the bears had previous and potentially frequent access to non-natural food sources, in which event, the bears were able to spread across the region. was attracted to the smell of food in the U.S., including dog food at the included campsite,” Lisa McInnis, head of resource management, told ABC 13 in Asheville.
“This learned behavior is very difficult to stop and, as in this case, the consequences may pose unacceptable risks to people.”