Bear in Tennessee kills six-year-old girl

Friday, April 14, 2006

Map highlighting Tennessee.

A six-year-old girl was killed after a black bear attacked her. Her mother and two-year-old brother, also attacked, were critically injured.

The nearly 400-pound bear attacked the family when they were staying at Chilwoee Campground located within the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. The family was visiting a nearby waterfall when they were attacked.

According to rescuers, the girl managed to escape from the bear, but was found only an hour later by a rescuer who fired shots that scared the bear away.

"Allegedly, after the rescue squad found the little girl, one of the squad members fired a shot from a small-caliber handgun. We don't know whether the bear was hit or not. There was no blood, but it chased off," said Dan Hicks, a spokesman for the states Wildlife Resources Agency.

The mother and the brother both remain in critical condition at a hospital in Chattanooga. The boy's skull was punctured by a bite to the head, before the bear attacked his mother. The mother was trying to scare the bear away with rocks and sticks before being attacked. According to doctors, she had several puncture wounds to her neck, but had too many other claw and teeth marks for them to count. Both are expected to recover.

Investigators have not yet been able to speak to the mother because of the severity of her injuries.

"She may not remember the attack at all," said Hicks, who also said that it was only Tennessee's second documented attack involving a bear.

"There is a chance that the same bear would attack someone else, so I hope they do catch him," said Lynn Rogers of the North American Bear Center.

Officials have baited traps with honey buns and doughnuts to try and catch the bear.

Authorities have not yet released the names of the victims. The campground has been closed.