GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — A bear was captured by wildlife biologists and euthanized on Monday according to the National Park Service after it caused minor injuries to a mother and her three-year-old daughter over the weekend.
“We were pretty shocked at first,” said Madison Willert, who is camping at the Elkmont campgrounds.
She and a group of friends were given a notice warning of bears following the incident. It all happened just 24 hours before their arrival.
“I mean I had camped in several national parks, including Yosemite, and there’s always been bears around, but I’d never heard of a bear ripping into somebody’s tent before, so we were pretty shocked,” Willert said.
On Sunday, the mother and daughter that came in contact with the bear, experts say it was hungry, which led to it tearing into their tent. Now campers like Willert, are being extra cautious.
“We’ve definitely been very careful like after cooking to make sure our campsite was bear-proofed before we went out and went hiking,” she said.
Food is what experts say brings about the most incidents involving bears. They advise packing everything up when not in use. Dan Gibbs, the black bear program coordinator for TWRA, adds that people shouldn’t leave out anything that has a scent, like deodorant or toothpaste.
“A bears smell is greater than your best smelling dogs by seven times at least, so what you think maybe not that big of a deal, they can smell it from miles away,” Gibbs said.
If a bear happens to make it to your campgrounds, Gibbs said don’t wait for it to approach.
“You want to be really big and get your hands up in the air, make a lot of noise. If you’ve got things to throw at it, throw things at it,” he said.
All of these tips are important to keep in mind, not only for your safety but for others.
“Your actions influence bear behavior and while it may seem like it’s no big deal to toss a little bit of food or leave a little bit of food behind, you’re going to be going home on Sunday afternoon and someone else is coming into that campsite on Friday that has no idea what went on the weekend before,” Gibbs said. “So think about the people that are going to use it after you leave.”
If a bear is seen near a campground, Gibbs said it’s best to contact local authorities. This is because it may have gotten food from the area before and will likely come back.