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:
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.
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The Forest Service's Bear Necessities for safety in the woods include not leaving food outside and what to do if you encounter a bear in the woods.
Bear encounters can be pleasant or dangerous. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has safety tips about what to do if you meet Yogi on the trail.
Published Aug 17, 2016. After a bear killed a hiker's dog in the park, authorities with the Shenandoah National Park are warning hikers about increased bear activity.
Published Feb 3, 2012.
Areas of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina require bear canisters for overnight camping in the Pisgah National Forest due to encounters with bears.