'Food Conditioned' Bear Rips Into Family's Tent

Great Smoky Mountains National Park says bear that injured 2 campers was euthanized
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2022 6:25 PM CDT
Bear Euthanized After Ripping Into Family's Tent
"Feeding bears or allowing them access to human food and garbage causes a number of problems," the park says.   (Getty Images/m-kojot)

(Newser) – A bear that had apparently become far too accustomed to eating human food had to be euthanized after it burst into a tent full of campers early Sunday morning, officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park say. A woman and her three-year-old daughter were scratched on the head and suffered minor injuries after the bear ripped into the tent, where a family of five and their dog were sleeping. at around 5:20am, NBC reports. Officials say the girl's father managed to scare the bear away and the animal was euthanized after workers put down traps in the Elkmont Campground area in the Tennessee part of the park.

The male black bear weighed much more than bears normally do at this time of year, " suggesting the bear had previous and likely consistent access to non-natural food sources," Lisa McInnis, the park's chief of resource management, said in a press release. When traps were laid, the "bear exhibited extreme food-conditioned behavior and lack of fear of humans, boldly entering the trap without wariness," the park said.

"The bear’s behavior appeared to be inconsistent with predatory behavior, but rather that of a food conditioned bear," the park said. McInnis tells WBIR that the bear was "obviously looking for a snack." She says the best way for campers to avoid bear encounters is to keep food and anything else with a strong smell—" candles, deodorant, shampoo, perfume"—stored in a secure spot. Most of all, park officials say, visitors shouldn't feed bears or leave their garbage where bears can access it. (Read more black bear stories.)

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