Mother and daughter injured by bear attack at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — A family camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park was attacked by a bear that ripped into their tent, hurting both a mother and child.

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The National Park Service said in a news release that a family of five and their dog were sleeping in their tent when a bear ripped into it early Sunday morning. Inside the tent, the bear scratched a 3-year-old girl and her mother.

Officials said in the news release that the father was able to scare the bear out of the tent and away from the campsite, “but only after several attempts.” Both the mother and child were taken to the hospital and treated for scratches on their heads.

When park rangers got to the site, they interviewed the father as well as other campers and collected information such as bear tracks that could help them identify the animal, WYFF reported.

Rangers were able to trap the bear. They said the animal’s behaviors were consistent with a “food-conditioned” bear. Rangers said that based on the bear’s behavior as well as physical measurements, they were confident they identified the bear involved in the incident, WYFF reported.

“The bear weighed approximately 350 pounds, which is not standard for this time of year, suggesting the bear had previous and likely consistent access to non-natural food sources,” Lisa McInnis, chief of resource management for the National Park Service, said in a statement. “In this incident, the bear was likely attracted to food smells throughout the area, including dog food at the involved campsite. It is very difficult to deter this learned behavior, and as in this case, the result can lead to an unacceptable risk to people.”

The bear was captured and euthanized, WBIR reported.

The National Park Service said that if you are attacked by a black bear, the best thing to do is fight back with any object available, and remember that the bear may view you as prey.