8-year-old Mauled By Bear In Smoky Mountains


Knoxville News, Bear Hunting Magazine

Authorities cut open a slain bear and found a shoe lost by a Florida man while fighting off a bear that attacked his 8-year-old son in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The footwear was discovered in the black bear's stomach during a necropsy at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center, Smokies spokeswoman Nancy Gray said Monday. It leaves little doubt rangers killed the right bear.

Authorities say the attack was unprovoked, though Pala said their clothes might have smelled like fried chicken from a meal an hour earlier. The boy had bruises on his back, stitches in his arms and staples on his scalp, but is recovering well at home.

This was the eighth bear attack in the past decade on a visitor to the Great Smokies, which is home to about 1,600 black bears and receives more than 9 million visitors annually. An attack in 2000 resulted in a fatality.

Officials at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park say a black bear mauled an 8-year-old Florida boy and the boy's father was injured while defending him. Park rangers later killed a bear matching the description of the one in the attack. Park wildlife management personnel said the bear likely was a yearling. The animal was taken to the University of Tennessee for a necropsy to establish that it is the bear that attacked the child.

Park spokesman Bob Miller says the bear approached Evan Pala of Boca Raton, Florida while he was playing in a creek at about 7:30 p.m. Monday. Miller says the bear attacked the boy, was driven off and came back a second time. Miller says the father was able to chase the bear away with rocks and sticks.

The boy suffered some puncture wounds that were serious but not believed to be life-threatening. The father, John Pala, suffered several cuts during the attack.

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