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Bear killed after attacking sleeping teen at Great Smoky Mountains campsite

The teen was transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center by the Tennessee Army National Guard at approximately 9:00 a.m.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park(WVLT)
Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 2:02 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Officials with the Great Smoky Mountain National Park have closed Backcountry Campsite 29 in the Cosby section of the park after a 16-year-old was attacked by a bear Friday.

According to park rangers, the incident happened around 12:20 a.m. Friday when a 16-year-old girl was attacked and injured by a bear while sleeping in a hammock at the campsite.

The campsite is located 5.7 miles from the Maddron Bald Trailhead.

The teen was transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center by the Tennessee Army National Guard at approximately 9:00 a.m.

Officials said the family, who on a two-night backpacking trip in the Smokies, was able to drive off the bear from the area immediately after the incident and quickly notified the park’s emergency center.

Park rangers responded to the campsite and provided on-site medical care overnight. The victim received multiple injuries including lacerations to the head. Officials said she remained conscious throughout the incident and is in stable condition at this time.

Following the attack, officials said two bears were spotted in the area. While rangers were at the campsite, one large male bear entered the site and repeatedly approached the area despite attempts to scare it away, authorities said.

The family identified the bear as being the one responsible for the attack and rangers shot and killed the animal, according to reports. Wildlife biologists confirmed human blood on the euthanized bear.

“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.”

Officials issued a reminder to hikers to take necessary precautions while in the park 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.

Park rangers said all the family’s backpacks and food were properly stored on aerial food storage cables.

The campsite will remain closed until further notice.

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