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'Greatest piece of information’ still missing as officials wait on report after bear found scavenging on human remains in park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials said the ‘the greatest piece of information’ they are waiting on is in the coroner’s report after a bear was found scavenging on human remains in the park.
Published: Sep. 12, 2020 at 9:23 AM PDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2020 at 1:29 PM PDT
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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials said the ‘the greatest piece of information’ they are waiting on is in the coroner’s report after a bear was found scavenging on human remains in the park.

On Monday, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials identified the victim as Patrick Madura, 43, of Elgin, Illinois.

Madura was found near Bryson City, North Carolina on the Hazel Creek Trail, a remote area of the park. Rangers had to euthanize the bear that was found scavenging on his remains.

“When they arrived they were able to confirm it was an adult male that was deceased and bear actively scavenging on his remains,” said park spokesperson Jamie Sanders. “It’s inherently dangerous to come and hike in bear country. Bears are wild animals. They are scavengers and they can be predators."

According to a release, campsite 82 and a section of Hazel Creek Trail is closed after rangers discovered the remains of Madura Friday around 7:00 p.m. Hikers reported to authorities discovering human remains across the creek of the campsite with a bear scavenging the area and officials were immediately dispatched to the scene.

Rangers euthanized the bear after observing the bear actively scavenging on the remains.

“Our wildlife biologists believe that once a bear has actively savaged on remains, they’ve gotten a food source, we do not ever want them to look at humans as a possible food source,” said Sanders.

Rangers said this is a good reminder of why not to feed the bears. When bears associate humans with food, they turn dangerous.

The cause of death is unknown. The Hazel Creek Trail will remain closed until further notice between Cold Springs Gap Trail and Welch Ridge Trail.

WVLT has put in a request from the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office to see how long they expect the autopsy results to take. They said each death is different and could not give a specific timeline.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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