Bear attacks sleeping teen in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — A Great Smoky Mountains National Park campsite is closed and a bear has been euthanized after a 16-year-old sustained multiple injuries during an attack while she was sleeping in a hammock.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials closed Backcountry Campsite 29 in the Cosby section of the park after a bear attack on June 18. The campsite will remain closed until further notice.

A 16-year-old girl from Middle Tennessee was attacked and injured by a bear while sleeping near her family in a hammock at the backcountry campsite, sustaining multiple injuries including lacerations to the head.

Two bears were spotted in the area following the attack, one of which entered the campsite while rangers were present and disregarded attempts to scare it from the site. Rangers shot and killed the bear after the family identified it as the one responsible for the attack.

She was transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center by the Tennessee Army National Guard.

Wildlife biologists were able to confirm human blood on the euthanized bear through forensic testing.

“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.” 

A park release said all backpacks and food was properly stored on aerial food storage cables.

Hikers are reminded to take necessary precautions while in bear country including hiking in groups of three or more, carrying bear spray, complying with all backcountry closures, properly following food storage regulations, and remaining at a safe viewing distance from bears at all times.

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