Park officials at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are offering a $5,000 reward for information relating to a dead black bear found on Saturday draped on the Foothills Parkway sign with the message “From Here to the Lake Black Lives Don’t Matter” also hanging on it.
Tourists found the black bear pelt with the skull inside on Saturday, hanging over an entrance sign on Highway 321 in Tennessee. Park officials haven’t said if they think the message was linked to hate speech or a vague statement about conservation and poaching of black bears.
“We encourage anyone with information to reach out to us as we continue to investigate possible motives for this incident,” said Chief Ranger Lisa Hendy. “We take vandalism incidents seriously in the park, and this particular incident is particularly egregious. It is, for this reason, we are offering a reward for information.”
Former park ranger Warren Bielenger witnessed the situation on Saturday morning on his way to do a migratory bird count. He said the bear was “freshly killed”.
“The skull was still in it, and there was still fluid dripping off the backside of the skin,” Bielenger recalled.
Illegal Killing of Bear
While hunting bears is illegal inside the park, other parts of Tennessee have certain restrictions, but it is legal. However, bear season doesn’t start until September 26.
Coy Blair of the Appalachian Bear Rescue says he has not been notified about the death of any of the tagged bears that the Rescue tracks.
According to parks spokeswoman, Dana Soehn, transporting killed animals elsewhere requires special permission from park officials.
“Game animals lawfully taken outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park may be transported by vehicle through the park. Specifically, on the Foothills Parkway, the park does have a regulation that hunters must contact the Park Communications Center before transport occurs,” Soehn wrote.
To Contact Authorities
Anyone with information may do so anonymously with these methods:
- CALL or TEXT the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch Tip Line at 888-653-0009
- ONLINE at www.nps.gov/isb and click “Submit a Tip”
- EMAIL [email protected]
MESSAGE on Facebook @InvestigativeServicesNPS or Twitter @SpecialAgentNPS
[H/T Knox News]