Pesky Bear ~ Photo by Robert Sutherland
Weary of “Pesky Bear Bites Appalachian Trail Hiker” headlines? I am. Yes, a bear “attacked” a hiker while sleeping in his tent near the Spence Field Shelter in the Smokies on May 10, 2016.
Please Note: No, the bear was not sleeping in the hiker’s tent, the hiker was. Thank you.
I’m sorry that Bradely Veeder of Las Vegas, NV, had a bite taken out of his leg by what officials believe was a 400-pound male bear — that was killed by those officials three days later.
The Internet says, “15 people are killed each year by coconuts falling from trees.” Yes, you are more likely to die from a falling coconut than you are to die from being attacked by bears on the AT.
Everyone with a backpack and smelly hiking shoes has an opinion on what happened. The most popular supposition is Mr. Veeder was unwisely snacking in his tent and that enticed the bear to Yogi his munchies. “They say” that wasn’t the cause.
Let’s review the facts. Question One: Where do bears live? Question Two: What do bears eat? Question Three: How many 400-pound bears are afraid of hikers sleeping in tents?
Bears live in the woods, people. They eat whatever they can lay (lie?) their paws on. To a 400-pound bear foraging after 11 PM, a camper in a tent is as appealing as a Pop-Tart to a hungry hiker.
Here’s what really happened. A bunch of people camped in a spot where thousands of others have camped. After every meal, everyone tosses his/her leftovers on the ground. I would not be surprised if, after a sufficient rainfall, the entire campsite doesn’t bubble up with “bear soup” made from abandoned Ramen noodles, bacon fat, Snickers residue and cracker dust.
Teach bears to eat berries: Leave No Trace.
AT Shelters Closed Due to Pesky Bears
- Russell Field Shelter
- Mt. LeConte Shelter
- Spence Field Shelter
- Campsite #11
- Lambert’s Meadow
Pesky Bear Warning Areas
- Cosby Knob Shelter
- Laurel Falls Trail