A three-year-old girl and her mother were scratched by a black bear that clawed through their tent early Sunday morning while they were camping in Elkmont Campground located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A press release issued by the National Park Service (NPS) stated that the behavior of the bear, which was later euthanized, was not predatory but was consistent with that of a food-conditioned bear.
“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,” said Lisa McInnis, the chief of resource management.
She said the bear was likely attracted to food smells in the area which led to the incident.
According to the agency, bear attacks are rare, though there are ways someone can be prepared for one.
“If you are attacked by a black bear, do not play dead,” the NPS urged. “Try to escape to a secure place such as a car or building. If escape is not possible, try to fight back using any object available. Concentrate your kicks and blows on the bear’s face and muzzle.”
Officials with the NPS said that a family of five was sleeping when the bear clawed through the tent. After several attempts, the father managed to scare the bear away from the area.
The family left a note for officials at the campground office before seeking medical attention.
“Both mother and daughter sustained superficial lacerations to their heads,” the release stated.
After speaking with the father of the family, park officials learned how they can identify the bear and they ultimately watched the area for bear activity and set traps until a male bear that matched the description entered the campsite.
“The bear exhibited extreme food-conditioned behavior and lack of fear of humans, boldly entering the trap without wariness,” the release stated.
The bear was “humanely euthanized” on Monday.
Officials urged park guests to properly store their food while in bear country, noting that conflicts between bears and humans peak in late May and June when natural foods are not available.
Newsweek reached out to the National Park Service for further comment.
There have been other instances of physical interactions between humans and bears.
A woman was getting her mail when a black bear charged at her. She was taken to the hospital and was treated for arm and back injuries.
One couple fought off a bear that broke into their house with a kitchen knife. The husband shot and killed the bear while it was in the house.
Another bear lunged at a woman and bit her foot while she was walking her dog. She yelled at the bear and scared it away.
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