Great Smoky Mountains National Park Says Wrong Bear Was Euthanized After Hiker Was Attacked

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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park said Monday the black bear it euthanized earlier this month was not the one that attacked a hiker sleeping in his tent near the Spence Field shelter.

The determination was made after officials received DNA analyses comparing samples from bears found near the shelter where the attack occurred May 10.

The first analysis compared a sample of bear saliva taken from the belongings of hiker Bradley Veeder, 49, of Las Vegas and from a male bear euthanized on May 13. Veeder, a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail, was treated and released from a hospital.

The second analysis compared a sample from Veeder’s belongings and a male bear that was captured and released with a GPS-tracking collar May 20.

Based on the analyses, neither of the two bears’ DNA matched the bear responsible for the attack.

The park said in a news release that it had developed a process that would allow timely testing of DNA samples over the past year. It also established facilities where bears could be held captive temporarily while awaiting analysis of the samples.

The park also uses the GPS-tracking technique to locate bears after obtaining DNA samples.

The park determined transporting the bears from Spence Field — a distance of about 6 miles — to the facilities was not practical.

Park biologists attempted to attach a GPS-tracking collar to the first bear on May 13, but the 400-pound bear’s neck was too large, according to the news release.

They were able to use the collar on the 200-pound bear captured and released on May 20.

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SOURCE: USA Today; Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel