Tourist Spot

Tourist carrying loads near the Great Smoky Mountains in TN


In this 2016 file photo, a bear roams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Charlotte Observer file photo

A bear broke into a locked cabin and attacked a tourist at a popular Tennessee vacation spot, officials said.

The man was at a rental house in the mountains when the bear came in and charged him on Saturday, Oct. 22, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

The attack was reported after 11 p.m. in Gatlinburg, a city near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The destination is the most visited national park in the country, straddling the border with North Carolina.

The bear is said to have entered the cabin “in the middle of the night”. Officials believe the animal passed “through a set of locked, but not locked, French doors” before the tourist found the animal in the cabin’s kitchen.

“The bear charged at the man and ran him over, causing serious injuries to his face and top of his head,” the wildlife agency wrote in a news release. “The bear also scratched him on the back as he retreated to the bedroom where he locked himself in and called 911.”

The man refused to receive medical treatment at the scene, but was later taken to hospital and released, the agency wrote.

The tourist’s rental cabin was near downtown Gatlinburg, in an area that hadn’t had any recent bear complaints. Officials said a nearby trap caught a bear that matched the description of the one involved in the attack.

The 209-pound female bear – who had no cubs – was euthanized, officials said. Samples of his body were submitted for further testing.

In Tennessee, black bears are found near the state borders with North Carolina and Kentucky. The animals, which can weigh up to 600 pounds, are generally not aggressive toward people, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency website.

“Black bears habituated to human foods or other unnatural foods sometimes enter homes, vehicles, or other human-inhabited areas in search of food,” the agency wrote in its statement.

To avoid encounters, people are encouraged to take down bird feeders, keep trash secure, move pet food indoors, and clean outdoor grills. If you see a bear, authorities recommend backing up, raising your arms, or trying scare tactics.

This story was originally published October 24, 2022 2:20 p.m.

Simone Jasper is a reporter who covers breaking news for The News & Observer and real-time news in the Carolinas.