The annual pre-berry season ‘people taste good’ time is again underway in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where a bear chomped down on a sleeping Appalachian Trail hiker Tuesday night. Bradley Veeder, 49, was sleeping in his tent near Spence Field Backcountry Shelter when the bear bit him in the lower leg through the tent.
Fortunately for Veeder, he was able to immediately scare the bear away. The injured hiker and other nearby campers then gathered in the back country shelter for the rest of the night. The bear returned at some point and tore through two vacant tents, including the one belonging to the injured hiker. Responding to the attack Wednesday morning, ranger transported Veeder by horse. Veeder had swelling and pain in the lower leg and was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital was treated and released.
The Spence Field Backcountry Shelter is now closed is remaining on site to see if the bear returns again. Bear feeding activity of hikers and fishermen is expected to wind down in the next few months when the berries ripen.