View Full Version : Bear Attack Near Cherokee?

04-14-2006, 12:21 AM
My oldest daughter just read that there was a family camping in or near Cherokee Natl Forest and a bear attacked them. A six year old girl died from injuries sustained in the attack. Details are kind of sketchy, but they said that her mom and brother were also critically injured and several others present tried unsuccessfuly to fight off the bear with sticks and rocks.

I have heard a few different reports of bears seeming to be more aggressive than usual. This being the case folks might seriously consider or reconsider obtaining some bear spray for protection. Also may want to be a little more sensitive and aware of your surroundings while on stream or camping.


04-14-2006, 12:40 AM
Looks to be a true story...Sadly

April 13, 2006, 11:10PM
6-Year-Old Girl Dies in Tenn. Bear Attack

2006 The Associated Press

BENTON, Tenn. A bear attacked a family at a camp site in the Cherokee National Forest on Thursday, killing a 6-year-old girl and injuring her 2-year-old brother and mother, authorities said.

The attack took place near a pool of water on Chilhowee Mountain, said Dan Hicks, spokesman for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Witnesses described the bear picking up the boy in its mouth while the mother and other visitors tried to fend it off with sticks and rocks, Hicks said. The mother was injured before the bear was chased away.

The girl ran away during that attack, but was found dead a short time later with the bear nearby. A park ranger fired at least one shot at the bear before it bolted off.

The woman and her son were flown by helicopter to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, where both were being treated for wounds consistent with a bear attack, Hicks said.

Hospital officials did not immediately return calls for comment, but Hicks said the boy was listed in critical condition. The victims' names were not released.

Forest Service employees, TWRA game agents and several hunters were searching for the bear in an area spanning several thousand acres.

The 640,000-acre park runs along the southeastern Tennessee border with North Carolina, southwest of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

04-14-2006, 09:13 AM
A sad day indeed

04-14-2006, 09:55 AM
My deepest sympathy to the family. Having three small grandchildren who love to hike and camp, I can't even begin to comprehend having to deal with that situation the parents and family face.

Even though this didn't happen in GSMNP, we, who frequent the So. Appalachians where bears are present have to be aware that we are dealing with animal behavior THAT MAY BE THE RESULT OF: 1) Our behavior to them. 2) Their previous encounters with the "Tourons", being feed, teased, etc. 3) They are a wild animal who through increased encounters with humans has lost some fear of man.There is a lot more bear people encounters in the park, than NPS makes public or is heard about beyond the region.

Wednesday afternoon as my wife and I walked out from above Elkmont, a gal was starting to hike up Little River Trail saw the sign about campground #27 being closed due to bear activity and turned around. She and my wife struck up a conversation where she mentioned that she loved the park but was afraid to go many places in it by herself. My wife, then, showed her the can of Bear spray she carries and we explained how it worked and how to obtain it. The extra security will open up a large part of the park to her.

Bear Spray is meant as a LAST RESORT and with SOME INSTRUCTION. Spraying it around your camp site, on your vest, etc. DOES NOT WORK!!!! The spray is a oil based pepper suspension that will hang in the air as a mist. When it comes into contact with the eyes, nose and other membranes it creates EXTREME DISCOMFORT. It is EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE ON BEARS, there is a reason NPS and Forest Service personel are REQUIRED to carry it in parts of the west. THEY DO NOT GET OUT OF THE CAR OR TRUCK WITHOUT IT ON!! I was very strongly advised to carry it while in the NF headquarters in Cody. Wyo. many years ago.Some brands have a short video/ brochure explaining how to use it properly. It is not meant to be used indescrimately. I'm sorry to say that as chalets and homes build up around the park, as the human population expands into bear habitat, A BEAR POPULATION THAT IS EXPANDING, we will probably have more of these incidents. This is just one form of insurance just the use air bags and wearing a seat belt, even though you are not speeding.

Don't misunderstand, I know the drive Lexington and Sevierville is many times more dangerous than anything you can encounter in the park and I can see myself using the spray on a DOG long before a bear, but its insurance.

Anyone wanting some info on how to obtain some can email me for a Website.

Again Please keep these folks in your prayers.

04-14-2006, 11:56 AM
Excellent post, KTB. I think we all take for granted what these creatures can do sometimes. The bear spray idea is one I had many years ago but never did get any. Your post makes me rethink this. A person with spray could have possibly saved the little girls life. There's no way the bear could have found her with this stuff up its nose.

04-14-2006, 01:05 PM
I also highly recommend carrying pepper spray for bears or any other predators one might encounter. Several years ago I began riding a bike for exercise, sometimes doing so while it was dark such as late night or early morning. It amazed me how many folks have big dogs like Rottweilers and Chows that are left to run loose. I even had a couple of mutts, one huge and another much smaller, try to encircle me to attack while running one afternoon.

Needless to say I began to carry a cannister of pepper spray give to me by my brother who was in law enforcement at the time. I was forced to used it on several occasions and found it to be very effective. On one occasion it was dark and I could hear a dog running after me, I waited until it was so close I could feel it's breath and hear it huffing as it tried to get close enough to bite. At that point I pushed the button of the can already in my hand and blasted the dog fully in it's muzzel at which point the dog instantly retreated. I wasn't sure how big or what type of beast this was so the next day I rode back by the same house at which point a full grown chow began to come out after me. As the dog got close I held up the pepper spray. Upon seeing the had with spray in it, the god instantly retreated to the safety of it's owner's front porch and quit even barking.

It's important to obtain a sizable can of spray, not one of those little "purse size" with a fraction of an ounce and also I am for the higher concentrations of Capsascium (sp?) . It is also important to have the can readily accessable, in hand if a likelyhood of threat is evident such as sound or evidence of a bear nearby, approaching, etc. Last but not least, try the spray out if possible to become familiar with the pattern and distance of the spray (some spray a fog others a stream). It could be very easy if you are not used to or familar with the spray, to panic and empty the can before the bear, dog, threat...is close enough to be affected and repelled.

I agree Rusty, my first thought was if anyone of those folks had spray and had used it this situation would never have become as serious as it did. I have even wondered if the park service might possibly be able to use pepper spray to retrain some of the pesty bears so that they would avoid future human contact???


04-14-2006, 02:55 PM
In my emails with the GSMNP headquarters, they did not prohibit it but discouraged its use apparently afraid of misuse causing more problems.

04-15-2006, 03:58 PM
We go to Yellowstone every summer. Just like putting on our shoes we put on "Bear Bells" nothing but a large Jingle bell on a lanyard. We tie it to our belts so thet the bells hit our legs on every step. Bears in Yellowstone avoid people if they are aware of their presence, there fore the bells. They can be heard over 500 yards. Almost all bear attacks/encounters happen when the bear is surprised, and feels threatened.

I suppose that the bears in the smokies react like the Yellowstone bears.

I guess I will start wearing my bells in the Smokies

04-15-2006, 11:17 PM
I have a very large collection of jinglers also. My problem with using them in the park is, the noise along the streams would mask the bells. I gave up on fishing the YNP, too crowded. I fish the Crandall Creek, Hoodoo Creek and Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone, into the Beartooth. The folks there make no bones about that being Grizzly habitat. They POST SMALL BILLBOARD TYPE SIGNS. *"Grizzly Frequent this Area", etc. I've seen a couple brown butts high tailing away. My one fear is walking up on a sleeping one in the tag alders or willows while fishing. My cousin's Father in Law was severely mauled in Glacier years ago, walking up on a sow and cub along a stream.

I'm going to disagree with lumping Grizzly and Black bears together. The Forest Service has done an excellent job of providing Bear boxes at campgrounds,education and closely enforcing fines for violations, along with the remoteness of the area, etc. to make the greater Yellowstone bears about as close to a "wild" bear as you can get. Heck, With the REPUTATION of the big, brown furry, folks PAY attention and fear them.

Having had a bear "beeline" down the hill and pace the otherside of the river from me (No food on me at the time), or chasing a jogger down the road at Tremont, or hassling a fisherman hiking in (posted on Southernflyfishing forum a week later same area as my incident) tells me, they have learned to associate humans with food. As I drove between PF and Metcalf's Monday, I commented to my wife about the increasing abundance of chalets on the edge of the park. I am afraid were dealing with the equivalence of the old "Garbage Dump Bears". The average "Tourist" still views the black bears as the cute, cuddley, harmless clowns of the roadside zoo's. I might hypothesize that the killer bear in the Cherokee COULD EASILY have been feed there before by tourists. We have people moving into bear habitats, look around GSMNP. *We have a black bear population which is exploding. I moved to the Morehead Ky area in 1970, to do my graduate work. I roamed the Cave Run Lake area before the Lake filled. I've been all over the D. Boone fishing and hiking for 30+ years. I never heard of bear in Eastern Ky (Bio-Science Ed Grad Student). Any bear found in Ky was thought to have wandered over from Virginia.The past 5 years they are appearing everywhere- Big South Fork, Red River Gorge, Daniel Boone. The Lexington TV showed pictures of Bears taking dog food on the edges of Morehead.

Love them, enjoy them from a distance, follow the bear rules and don't always expect them to follow the rules just because you do.

AGAIN, REMEMBER A PRAYER FOR THE FAMILY. I can not imagine what they are going through. I had my grandkids the past two days- a 2 year old granddaughter and 6 year old grandson. Watching this on TV with them in the house really hit home to me.