Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Photo Credit:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Photo Credit: ReverieHikes | Cover Photo: Jim Martin

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the few places in the southeast where diverse mountain wildlife covers the landscape. However, human interaction with that wildlife can cause some unwanted effects. One of those effects includes the wildlife exhibiting aggressive behaviours towards humans.

That aggression reared its ugly head last month, when Bradley Veeder of Las Vegas was reportedly bitten by a Black Bear while snoozing in a tent near the Spence Field shelter just off the Appalachian Trail reports The Knoxville News Sentinel. The hiker in question had sufficiently strung and stored his food above ground.

Great Smoky National Park is the most visited National Park in the country with over 9 million visits annually. 

After the incident, park officials tracked down a 400 pound, male black bear whose proximity to the shelter and telling tooth injury matched the bite wound on the hiker who was attacked. The bear was tranquilized and later euthanized by national park officials.

However, after DNA samples taken from the bear’s saliva were compared to that of Veeder’s belongings, it became obvious that the euthanized bear was not the bear responsible for the attack at Spence Field. Park officials did not transport the 400-pound bear at the time of the incident because of the 6 mile distance proved impractical.

“Park staff have worked diligently over the last year to develop viable alternatives to euthanasia. Understandably, these options won’t be appropriate responses for every bear incident. In the interest of responsibly protecting hiker safety in America’s most visited national park, we make our decisions based on the best available information for each particular situation.”Park Superintendent, Cassius Cash

Early summer months can be hard for black bears as available food supplies are limited. That shortage of food can cause Black Bears to display irregular hostility towards people.

Find the entire Knoxville News Sentinel article here: DNA samples show wrong bear killed after Smokies hiker attacked