Bear breaks into locked holiday cabin and mauls man near Great Smoky Mountains

Black bear in North Carolina mountains
(Image credit: Getty)

A man vacationing near Great Smoky Mountains National Park was mauled by a large black bear that broke into his rented cabin on Saturday October 22. The animal forced its way in through French doors that were locked, but not deadbolted, and made its way into the kitchen where it surprised the occupant.

According to local news site the Charlotte Observer, the bear swatted at the man, injuring his face and the top of his head. It also scratched his back before he was able to escape and lock himself in a bedroom and call 911.

Officers from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) attended the scene, but said that the man declined medical treatment.

The agency set a trap nearby, and caught a 209lb female bear matching the description of the one that broke into the cabin. The bear had no cubs with her, and was euthanized for public safety. Hair samples were sent for DNA testing, and her claws were swabbed for human blood.

Food conditioning

It's likely that the bear had become food conditioned after finding an easy meal at other cabins, and had come to associate human dwellings with an opportunity to eat. Black bears are determined scavengers, and will be particularly persistent at this time of year as they aim to lay on fat stores to see them through hibernation.

"The survival rate of bears receiving food from people is likely a fraction of that of wild bears that do not have repeated contact with humans," says the TWRA. "The deliberate and accidental feeding of bears is socially irresponsible and causes animals to become conditioned and habituated to people."

If a bear becomes habituated, it's more likely to be involved in a conflict with humans. See our guide what is bear habituation and why is it dangerous for more information.

"The end result is that such bears are often killed by intolerant and/or fearful landowners or have to be destroyed by the TWRA," the agency exxplains.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.