Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Smoky Mountain Bear Attack: Follow-up

I just wanted to give an update with regards to a couple of follow-up details on the bear attack that occurred near Gatlinburg on Monday evening.

As was widely reported yesterday, an eight-year-old Florida boy was attacked by a bear near the trailhead of the Rainbow Falls Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The boy required 35 stitches and staples for wounds to his arms, torso and the back of his head.

I read some speculation on a popular forum that there was a possibility that the boy somehow provoked the bear. This doesn't seem to be the case. Based on reports from the boy and his father it sounds like the attack was completely unprovoked. The family was simply taking photos by the creek near the trailhead when the bear appeared from behind a tree, as reported by the young boy.

The bear actually attacked the boy twice. Both times the boy's father and his 10-year-old brother had to fight it off with sticks and rocks.

The bear was originally reported as a young cub weighing 55 pounds. Today's Orlando Sentinel article reports the bear as being a young male weighing in at 86 pounds, making him a yearling.

Within minutes of the attack forest rangers were on the scene. They found a bear in the vicinity that acted aggressively and shot it. Although they're fairly certain that this was the same bear that attacked the boy, they won't know for sure until a necropsy is performed.

The linked article also includes a short video interview with the boy, his father and his brother.



Ark Lady said...

Predatory attacks are getting more common. I just finished a week long series about animal attacks at one of my websites.

What I found during my research is that the black bear attacks are neck and neck with brown bear attacks according to one calculation.

Also, it doesn't take much to provoke an attack--being in the wrong place at the wrong time, stumbling onto a bear, or getting between cubs are just a few reasons.

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Ark Lady - it does seem like predatory attacks are becoming more common. A 6 year old girl was killed by a bear just outside of the Smokies in 2006.

Some of the forums and blogs I've read are hypothesizing that the extreme drought in the Smoky Mountains region is impacting food sources for bears, which in turn is making them more aggressive. Do you know if this is true or not? Seems like a logical explanation.

P.S. Please share your web site.