During the weekend, a group of hikers found an empty tent near the Hazel Creek Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park found between North Carolina and Tennessee. The group also discovered what they assumed to be human remains across the creek while a bear scavenged the area.
Feasting on human remains
Authorities later identified the remains to belong to 43-year-old Patrick Madura from Elgin, Illinois. After finding the remains, the group searched for an area with cellular service and immediately reported their findings to officials.
According to The Sun, law enforcement rangers along with wildlife officers were quickly dispatched to the area after the report.
The news release wrote that officials arrived at campsite 82 where the hikers allegedly found the remains shortly after midnight and confirmed that the discovery was of a deceased adult human male.
Upon seeing the animal found near the campsite scavenging the remains of the dead man, rangers immediately euthanized it. Jamie Sanders, the spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said it was unclear whether the bear was responsible for mauling Madura or if the cause of death was something else entirely.
Sanders noted that their wildlife biologists believe when a bear feast on human remains, there are greater chances of the animal conducting that behavior again, posing significant risks to any hiker in the area. She stated officials do not want bears to associate humans with food.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Every year, the area attracts visitors from all around the world and is the most visited park in the United States, featuring mountains and other beautiful sceneries.
The National Park Service wrote on its website that the area where the incident occurred, the backcountry, is a natural area. Officials also warn hikers about the dangers of the region that consists of swollen streams and downed trees, as reported by Newsweek.
Dangers of the wild
The website also posts warnings of the estimated 1,500 black bears believed to be patrolling across the entirety of the country park.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most massive protected areas located in the eastern parts of the United States and is home to black bears that are left to live in the wild to experience a natural environment.
While investigations are ongoing, park officials closed off a section of the trail to avoid more hikers going through.
According to the Daily Star, the incident comes two years after a similar case of a black bear was found feasting on human remains within the vicinity of the park. Officials set the previous animal loose after placing a tracking collar on it. However, five days later, they proceeded to kill the animal due to safety concerns for visitors.
Medical experts who performed an autopsy on Madura found that he died from a meth overdose and officials concluded the bear most likely did not attack the victim while he was still alive.