Black bear euthanized after attacking family at Tennessee campground, injuring mother and daughter

The 350-pound black bear ripped into the family's tent in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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A black bear was euthanized after it broke into a family's tent at an eastern Tennessee campground on Sunday morning and left a mother and her 3-year-old daughter with superficial lacerations to their heads, the National Park Service said. 

The family of five and their dog were sleeping at Elkmont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park when the bear, which officials say "exhibited extreme food-conditioned behavior and lack of fear of humans," ripped into the tent around 5:20 a.m. 

The father was able to scare the bear off after several attempts then left a note at the campground to notify officials before seeking medical attention with the rest of his family. 

About 1,500 black bears live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

About 1,500 black bears live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  (iStock)

"The bear weighed approximately 350 pounds, which is not standard for this time of year, suggesting the bear had previous and likely consistent access to non-natural food sources," Resource Management Chief Lisa McInnis said in a statement. 

"In this incident, the bear was likely attracted to food smells throughout the area, including dog food at the involved campsite. It is very difficult to deter this learned behavior and, as in this case, the result can lead to an unacceptable risk to people." 

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Park rangers responded to the scene on Sunday morning and set bear traps in the area, which they eventually used to catch the bear. 

"Based on a match with physical measurements and descriptors, along with observed bear behavior, biologists successfully matched and identified the responsible bear," the National Park Service said. 

A sunrise at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the largest protected areas for black bears in the eastern United States. 

A sunrise at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the largest protected areas for black bears in the eastern United States.  (iStock)

The bear was euthanized on Monday due to the risk it posed to humans. 

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Berries and nuts, which make up about 85% of black bears' diets, are not yet available in May and June, leading to an increased number of human encounters with the animals in the late spring. 

About 1,500 black bears live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the largest protected areas for the species in the eastern United States.