Black Bear Dies After Getting Hit by Car in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

by Amy Myers
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

On Thursday, a motorist traveling through Great Smoky Mountains National Park hit a black bear, marking the second animal victim of a car crash in the park this month.

The incident occurred along the Gatlinburg Bypass, a 3.6-mile stretch of road located in Sevier County. Within the national park, the speed limit on the Bypass is 35 miles per hour.

According to Dana Soehn, a GSMNP representative, the 220-pound female did not have any ear tags, meaning that they had no record of the sow acting as a “nuisance bear.” Soehn also noted that this is the sixth bear to die from a car crash so far this year. On average, 11 bears are killed by motorists each year in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The park did not release any details regarding the motorist or the vehicle from the crash.

Rescue Group Reports of Second Bear-Motorist Crash Within Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Earlier this month, a bear cub nearly suffered a similar fate when a different vehicle struck it within Great Smoky National Park. At the time, the eight-month-old cub was crossing the road to rejoin its mother and two siblings. The bear was able to limp off of the road and climb a tree but responding noticed that the cub was not communicating with its mother. So, they decided to dart her and take her in for treatment at the Appalachian Bear Rescue.

There, wildlife experts kept a close eye on the tiny cub and even named her Myrtle.

Three days after the collision, the rescue group gave a surprisingly positive update on the bear’s wellbeing.

“Her mobility seems good: she can walk in a straight line, not staggering, and not in circles. Her head seems to be in control of her body: she can direct her feet to where her noggin wants them to go (i.e to the food bowls),” the group shared on Facebook. Experts also added excretory habits were normal, but they struggled to get her to eat.

This, of course, led to them putting some incredibly tempting treats in the Great Smoky Mountains bear cub’s pen, including “different combinations of honey, yogurt, applesauce and berry sauce.”

With a belly full of plain yogurt, honey and medicine, Myrtle began to gain back her strength and curiosity.

“She’s sleeping now, and we’ll keep doing our best to help her,” the ABR said.

The fundraiser for Myrtle’s care raised a total of $1,000, thanks to the 24 generous souls who wanted to see this baby return to the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s unknown if or when the bear cub will return to the wild, but with her recent progression, the outlook for Myrtle seems pretty optimistic.