Smoky Mountain Black Bear Attacks Teen Girl Sleeping in Hammock

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Park rangers killed the bear responsible for the attack

Smoky Mountain Park rangers shot and killed a black bear that attacked a teen girl who was sleeping in a hammock. The 16-year-old girl was camping with her family when the bear attacked in the middle of the night. She suffered laceration injuries to her hand and head and experienced heavy blood loss.

"This bear was exhibiting predatory behavior. It attacked in the middle of the night with no known provocation," Dana Soehn, with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, told ABC News.

The Tennessee National Guard evacuated the girl via helicopter because the backcountry campsite is almost 6 miles from the trailhead and is located in steep terrain with dense foliage. She was taken to UT Medical Center and treated for her injuries.

"Fortunately, the family was close by and able to scare the bear away and keep it at bay until the Rangers arrived," Soehn said.

Two bears were spotted in the area after the attack, including one large male bear that repeatedly attempted to enter the campsite. Rangers shot and killed the male bear, which the family identified as the one responsible for the attack. 

According to park officials, the family had properly secured their food so as not to attract bears and they responded properly when the bear attacked.

"If a bear continues to approach you, or it shows aggressive behavior as in this situation, we encourage everyone to fight back," Soehn said. "Do everything they can to discourage that behavior. And in this incident, the family was successfully able to thwart that bear from any more serious attack."

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