SWAIN COUNTY, N.C. (WATE) — Backpackers in one of the country’s most visited national parks made a gruesome discovery late last week.
Officials at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reported that backpackers found a human body Friday afternoon and a bear feeding on the remains.
The deceased man has been identified as Patrick Madura, 43, of Elgin, Illinois.
The man’s remains were found across the creek from a campsite off of a park trail. The campers left the site to find cell reception to report the incident to authorities.
Rangers and wildlife officers rushed to the scene after communication staff received the report just after 7 p.m.
“The decision to euthanize a bear is never made lightly,” said Jamie Sanders, a spokesperson for the park. “Our bears are iconic figures at the Smokies. But unfortunately, there are some dangers associated with bears. We do have history, although very rare, of bears not only stalking visitors, but attacking, even killing, and scavenging on remains of people.”
GSMNP closed the campsite and the trail following the incident.
Park officials applauded the campers’ report of the incident.
“If a bear is actively stalking you off the trail as you’re hiking, we want to know about it because that’s a dangerous situation,” Sanders said.
For more information on what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking, please visit the park website.