Rangers decided to euthanize a black bear in Great Smoky Mountains National Park after hikers stumbled across the bear snacking on human remains.
The remains belonged to 43-year-old Patrick Madura of Elgin, Illinois. His cause of death remains under investigation, WATE Channel 6 reported.
The area where Madura’s remains were found – Back Country Campsite 82 and Hazel Creek Trail – is closed until further notice.
The hikers were making their way along the Hazel Creek Trail when they noticed an empty tent. They peered across a creek and saw a bear standing over what appeared to be a body. They then hurried to an area where they got a cell phone signal to call for help.
The group reported the incident to authorities around 7 p.m., the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. By midnight, when rangers and wildlife officials arrived on the scene, the bear was still devouring the remains.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in America, according to Newsweek. It contains about 1,500 black bears. The National Park Service warns visitors not to get within 150 feet of a bear, on penalty of fines and arrest, and to use binoculars or other distance viewing tools to look at the animals.
The park is not the only site of a recent bear attack. Over the summer, two people died in Canada as a result of black bear attacks — 44-year-old Stephanie Blais, near Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan, and 67-year-old Peter Franczak in Red Lake. And in Alaska this July, 46-year-old Daniel Schilling died at the paws of a grizzly bear.