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 the June 18 mauling. The campsite will remain closed until further notice.
The bear left the teen, from middle Tennessee, with multiple injuries, including lacerations to the head. The 16-year-old was sleeping near her family at a backcountry campsite when the attack happened.
She was transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center by responders from the Tennessee Army National Guard.
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.
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.