NOTE: This is an update from the original story published on May, 12 2016. See original details below.
Last week a 400-pound male black bear suspected of biting an A.T. thru-hiker was euthanized by wildlife technicians in Great Smoky Mountains National.
Today, park officials are saying that the wrong bear was killed.
They know because DNA testing has confirmed that the bear that bit 49 year-old Bradley Veeder of Las Vegas, NV as he slept in his tent during an AT thru hike was indeed a different animal.
Dana Soehn is a spokeswoman for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Shortly after the bear was put down she acknowledged the chance it could be the wrong animal.
“We recognized there is a risk of an uninvolved bear being euthanized while we wait for DNA confirmation,” she told the Asheville Citizen Times. “The decision to euthanize an animal of any kind, especially a bear, is never made lightly.”
According to Soehn the decision to kill the bear was based largely on the it’s size and gender—both of which were consistent with eye witness descriptions of the animal—as well as an injury on its canine tooth that was likely sustained during the attack.
In a recent news release park officials said that wildlife biologists attempted to radio collar the 400-pound male before it was euthanized, but the collar would not fit around its neck.
ORINGINAL STORY: A backcountry shelter in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closed today after an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker was reportedly bitten by a black bear as he slept in the area on Tuesday night.
According to park spokesperson Dana Soehn, the hiker—a 49 year-old Bradley Veeder of Las Vegas, NV—sustained minor injuries to his lower leg before he was finally able to scare the bear away.
Soehn said the bear returned after the initial attack and ransacked two empty tents, one of which was Veeder’s, as he and other hikers sought refuge in the now-closed Spence Field Backcountry Shelter.
Veeder was transported out of the backcountry this morning by horse to Blount Memorial Hospital where he was treated and released.
Last June a sixteen year-old camper was attacked by a black bear in the Hazel Creek section of the Smoky Mountains National Park at backcountry campsite 84.