Man killed by bear in North Carolina park, medical examiner says

The chief medical examiner in North Carolina says a man visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last year was likely killed by a bear, the National Park Service said Thursday.

A park service statement said the death of Patrick Madura, 43, of Elgin, Illinois, was the second bear-related fatality in the history of the park.

Park rangers said at the time that Madura’s remains were found near Hazel Creek Trail after backpackers discovered an unoccupied tent and saw the remains “with a bear scavenging in the area” on Sept. 11, 2020.

The backpackers left the site to find cell reception to report the incident to authorities, the park said after the incident.

The bear was located by rangers and euthanized.

“Bears are an iconic symbol in the Smokies, but they are also dangerous wild animals, and their behavior is sometimes unpredictable,” said Bill Stiver, a wildlife biologist. “There are inherent risks associated with hiking and camping in bear country. Black bears are the largest predator in the park, and although rare, attacks on humans have occurred, inflicting serious injury and death.”  

Hazel Creek Trail and campsite 82 were temporarily closed in response to the death and have since reopened, the park service said.

There are an estimated 1,500 bears living in the park.