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Great Smoky Mountains Death of 2020 Was Second Bear-Related Death in Park History | WJHL

NORTH CAROLINA (WATE) – Nearly a year after the remains of an Illinois man were found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the North Carolina chief medical examiner reports that Patrick Madura has died of following a trauma caused by a bear.

In September 2020, Madura’s remains were found by backpackers near the Hazel Creek area and reported that a bear was searching the area. When authorities arrived, they observed the bear actively searching the human remains and quickly euthanized it.

This is the second bear-related death in GSMNP history, according to a spokesperson for the National Park Service.

The park is taking active measures in the backcountry to prevent conflict between humans and bears, including:

  • Provision of overhead storage cables for backpackers to hang their equipment and food,
  • Educate visitors on how to respond if a bear is encountered on the trail or at a campsite, and
  • Closure of backcountry campsites when bear activity is high in a given area.

“Bears are an iconic symbol of the Smokies, but they are also dangerous wild animals and their behavior is sometimes unpredictable,” said Bill Stiver, supervising wildlife biologist. “There are inherent risks associated with hiking and camping in bear country. Black bears are the park’s biggest predator, and although rare, attacks on humans have occurred, causing serious injury and death. ”

Staying Safe in Bear Country, According to GSMNP

Hikers are reminded to take appropriate precautions while in bear country, including hiking in a group of three or more, wearing bear spray, obeying all rear closures -country, complying with food storage regulations and keeping a safe distance from bears at all times.

In the event of a black bear attack, rangers strongly recommend retaliating with any available item. Remember that the bear may see you as prey. Under these circumstances, people should try to appear tall and not run or turn away from the bear.