Bear Bites Camper

A bear bit a sleeping Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Tuesday night in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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,  according to park spokesperson Dana Soehn.

The victim 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.

Soehn told 10News the bear returned at some point and tore through two vacant tents, including the one belonging to the injured hiker.

A Park Wildlife Technician and a Park Ranger responded to the scene early Wednesday morning. They transported the injured hiker by horse. The hiker had some swelling and pain in the lower leg.

Rural Metro then took Veeder to Blount Memorial Hospital. Officials confirmed to 10News on Thursday morning that Veeder had been treated and released.

The Spence Field Backcountry is now closed and the wildlife technician is remaining on site to see if the bear returns again, Soehn said.

Park officials are urging everyone to be cautious while hiking, camping, and picnicking to protect bears and themselves. A park release noted black bears in the park are wild and unpredictable. And although attacks on humans are rare, it does sometimes happen.

Officials are also reminding hikers that bears should never be fed and all food waste needs to be properly disposed to discourage bears from approaching humans.

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