A bear has been euthanized and a campsite closed until further notice following an attack at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Friday (June 18).
According to WATE, a 16-year-old camper from Middle Tennessee was asleep in a hammock at Backcountry Campsite 29 around 7 a.m. Friday when a bear approached and attacked her. She sustained several injuries, including lacerations to her head, and was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville by the Tennessee Army National Guard. As of Friday afternoon, her current condition and the extent of her injuries are unknown.
Following the attack, two bears were seen near the campsite. One bear entered the site, near the Cosby section of the park, but attempts by park rangers to scare the creature away failed. The teen's family confirmed the bear was the one that attacked the girl, and rangers shot and killed it. Forensic testing confirmed that there was human blood on the euthanized bear.
Though it is uncommon, bear attacks in the park are not impossible. Improperly stored food could be one reason why bears wander into populated areas, but that does not seem to be the case here as all backpacks and food were properly stored on aerial food storage cables, WATE reports.
"While serious incidents with bears are rare, we remind visitors to remain vigilant while in the backcountry and to follow all precautions while hiking in bear country," said Superintendent Cassius Cash. "The safety of visitors is our number one priority."
Check here for tips on what to if you see a bear in the park.