Re: Bear Attack Near Cherokee?
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.