Preliminary results from the necropsy of the bear that attacked the boy in the Smoky Mountains last week were released yesterday. Although preliminary, the results confirmed that the bear that attacked the eight-year-old Florida boy did not have rabies.
Additionally, park officials said that neither the boy, nor his family, did anything to provoke the attack. None of the family members were carrying any food with them, however, the father said that they had fried chicken about an hour before the attack and the smell of the meal may have been in their clothes.
Officials believe the attack was predatory, with the bear targeting the smallest member of the family. One park official said that the bear "stalked the boy as prey".
Park officials are also 100% sure now that they’ve killed the right bear. Proof of this was confirmed when parts of a tennis shoe were found in the stomach of the 86-pound bear. The shoe matched the one that the boy's father lost while fighting the bear off of his son.
Interestingly, the author of “Your Smokies” blog reported that another bear acted aggressively towards him as he was returning from his hike on the Lead Cove Trail in Cades Cove. This happened just one day after the attack on the Florida boy.
The question or suggestion has been floated on a couple of forums and blogs, so I’ll ask it here again: is the extreme drought in the Smokies causing food shortages for bears which is resulting in them acting more aggressively? If this is the case, visitors to the Smokies, especially hikers and campers, should take special precaution while in the area.
To put this in perspective, however, this was only the eighth bear attack in the Smoky Mountains in the last 10 years. Only one of those attacks resulted in a fatality. With roughly 1,600 black bears in the park and more than 9 million visitors each year, your chances of being attacked are extremely slim.