Campers at Elkmont Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park have been asked to not use tents or soft sided shelters until further notice after a 350lbs black bear ripped into a family’s tent, scratching a 3-year-old child and her mother on their heads. Park officials believe the bear that burst into the tent early Sunday morning was likely attracted by the aroma of food, include dog food.
The family of 5 was sleeping in a tent with the dog when the bear tore through the side. The father was able to scare the bear off after several attempts and the family left a note with the campground office describing the attack before taking the child to get medical treatment for her superficial lacerations. The bear was later was later tracked down and euthanized. Officials say the bear posed a risk to campers as it exhibited extreme food-conditioned behavior and lack of fear of humans:
“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. 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.” –Great Smoky Mountains National Park Chief of Resource Management Lisa McInnis