April 14, 2006


Using traps baited with honey buns and doughnuts, officials Friday tried to track down a black bear that killed a 6-year-old girl and critically injured her mother and 2-year-old brother.

The family had been at a pool below a waterfall in the Cherokee National Forest on Thursday afternoon when the bear attacked, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said.

Witnesses said the bear snatched up the boy in its mouth as the mother and other visitors tried to fend it off with sticks and rocks, said Dan Hicks, a spokesman for the agency.

The 6-year-old girl ran away but was later found dead about 100 yards down the trail, with a bear standing over her, authorities said.

A student of mine from the area says that the bear problem has been getting worse, and that they wander outside the park, but that authorities have been downplaying it. This reminds me of David Baron's terrific book, The Beast in the Garden: The True Story of a Predator's Deadly Return to Suburban America. I wrote a column about that a while back. The bottom line is that predators are dangerous, and especially so when they've learned not to fear human beings. There's probably a larger lesson there, as I note in the column.