Park officials have reopened the Mt. Le Conte Backcountry Shelter and Cliff Tops trails after capturing and euthanizing an aggressive bear.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced Thursday, May 21, 2015 that it had reopened park areas closed earlier in the week due to bear activity, but stated that bear warnings remain in place for the Mt. Le Conte Backcountry Shelter and lodge, and the Boulevard, Alum Cave, Bull Head, Rainbow Falls, Trillium Gap, and Brushy Mountain trails.
One of the park’s Wildlife Technicians had an encounter Sunday with a bear near the trail to Cliff Tops in which the bear persistently approached and followed him to Le Conte Lodge, failing to be deterred by loud noises and attempts by the trained ranger to scare it.
On Tuesday, May 19, park officials closed the area to hikers and wildlife staff captured a bear at Mt. Le Conte matching the description of the bear that had exhibited rare, aggressive, predatory behavior. The bear, a large male weighing approximately 175 pounds, was captured in the same location where it was previously encountered by the park wildlife technician on Sunday and was humanely euthanized shortly after capture.
“The decision to euthanize an animal of any kind in the park is never made lightly,” said park spokesperson Brent Everitt. “Bears are iconic symbols in the Smokies and our staff works diligently to protect them and their habitat. The predatory behavior exhibited by this bear limited our options. We could not release an aggressive bear exhibiting predatory behavior anywhere in the park without the risk of the bear pursuing hikers or families with children in another area.”
For more information on what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/black-bears.htm. To report a bear incident, please call 865-436-1230.