Altha couldn’t stop thinking about the bear and her terrifying encounter with it. She carefully replayed every step she took and every movement she made and felt like the luckiest woman alive that she had survived. Her extensive research had saved her life, and having had previous encounters with bears also helped her remember that animals needed to feel scared to retreat.
Altha has repeatedly gone on TV to state how lucky and grateful she feels. In an interview, she made an emotional statement, “I’ve been praising the Lord ever since then because I could not have been here… if it hadn’t been for this lawn chair, I guess!”
The Neighbor Called for Help
After the bear fell unconscious to the ground, the neighbor proceeded to call the relevant authorities. The bear was merely wounded, and she knew it would just be a few hours before she woke up again. The wildlife authorities that came to take the bear were at odds with what to do.
On one hand, this was the bear’s territory, as the neighbors’ houses bordered a national park. On the other, they couldn’t have an aggressive bear running around that could potentially kill dozens of people. Maybe they could relocate the animal and its cubs. The bear remained in captivity while the rangers decided what the best course of action was.
A Tough Decision
Unfortunately, the consensual decision by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park wildlife rangers and several experts in the matter was to put down the bear. This decision is usually the absolute last resort since bears and wildlife are generally heavily protected.
Much to the forest rangers’ sadness, they had to put down the bear because, according to state law, once a bear makes contact with a human and injures them, it gets a taste for it and will most likely try to do it again. So, relocating the animal is no longer an option. A ranger told the local news station that euthanizing bears is often the hardest decision to make and they obviously don’t do it based on personal feelings.
Altha’s story increased the media’s coverage of the area, and many local residents were interviewed about their encounters with bears. Many people said that, even though there had been a significant increase in bear encounters in the last few years, they hadn’t been aggressive. Altha’s case was a rare occurrence.
A neighbor told ABC that they can see them every few days during the summer and even more so over the past ten years. One neighbor emphasized the fact that Altha’s bear had been a mother with its cubs and, therefore, uncharacteristically defensive and protective. Another neighbor said it was people’s own fault for leaving food out for the animals.
It Wasn’t the First Time
Altha’s terrifying encounter with the bear was the second time something like that happened in the area. It came to be known that just a few days before Altha’s incident, a bear had tried to attack a mother and her 3-year-old child. Apparently, the bear ripped into a tent while the mother and her child were camping at Elkmont campsite near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Luckily, before the bear could fatally injure the mother and child, park rangers came running to the site and apprehended the animal right on time. The mother and child suffered some superficial scratches.