DNA evidence unveiled this week confirmed officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park euthanized the wrong bear after an attack on a teenager earlier this month.
“It's very unusual for an uninvolved bear to come back to the scene of an attack. But, regrettably, we did euthanize an uninvolved bear,” commented park spokeswoman Dana Soehn, reports WBIR.
Park officials also said on June 23 that the bear involved in the attack was likely shot by rangers and is suspected to have died of its injuries.
The information came to light after a Pennsylvania lab conducted DNA analysis.
“We have learned through this process that we have a lab that can turn DNA analysis back within two weeks,” Soehn stated. “That really opens the door for us to consider holding an animal and waiting for that DNA analysis to come back to confirm a link to the attack site before the animal is put down.”
“We're going to be looking for a partner facility that might be able to humanely house an adult wild bear for up to two weeks while we wait for confirmation linking an animal to a bear attack,” she added, according to WLOS.
The attack occurred on June 6 and involved 16-year-old Gabriel Alexander, who was on a backpacking trip with his father, Greg.
“This was the third night we were camped out at a remote site just the two of us sleeping in hammocks,” Greg told WLOS.
“I woke up to (Gabriel) screaming, and I saw a bear. And it seemed to have bitten (Gabriel) in the head and was dragging him that way across the ground towards the bushes,” he said. “I just had to get the bear off of him. I think I kicked the bear a couple times, and it didn't seem to have any effect. So I just jumped on (the bear) and started punching it in the face.”
Park officials said the incident was the first since 2001 in which a bear had pulled someone from a hammock.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons