Bear Was Killed After Attack on Hiker—the Wrong Bear

He 'fit the profile,' says Smoky Mountains rep
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2016 9:03 AM CDT
Bear Was Killed After Attack on Hiker—the Wrong Bear
A file photo of a black bear.   (AP Photo/Brian Melley)

Wildlife officials shot and killed a 400-pound bear thought to have attacked a hiker in Great Smoky Mountains National Park earlier this month. The only problem: The bear was innocent. DNA tests on the animal show the male black bear wasn't the overly aggressive one that bit a 49-year-old hiker on the leg as he slept in his tent on May 10. Saliva and fur samples were sent away in a bid to identify the animal. But three days later, before the results came back, officials found a male black bear that "fit the profile of the bear we expected to be responsible for the attack" and euthanized it, reports Reuters.

Officials say the bear—discovered only 225 feet from the attack site—had a canine tooth injury that synced with the hiker's bite, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel. It was also too big to be moved 6 miles to an area where it could be kept in temporary captivity; a tracking collar wouldn't fit around its neck. "We make our decisions based on the best available information for each particular situation" and "a decision to euthanize an animal is not made lightly," the park superintendent says. Another 200-pound bear was given a tracking collar on Friday, but tests show it also didn't attack the hiker, who was treated at a hospital. (More bears stories.)

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