By JOSEPH MARTIN
ONE FEATHER STAFF
GATLINBURG, Tenn. – A man, whose body was found by Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers scavenged by a bear, died from accidental methamphetamine intoxication, according to the findings of an autopsy report. The discovery of his body led to a bear being euthanized.
William Lee Hill, Jr., 30, of Lousiville, Tenn., was found dead about two miles north of Cades Cove near Townsend, Tenn. Sept. 9, 2018. Searchers found a bear feeding on his body. Hill’s death was not due to a bear attack, according to a report conducted by the Knox County (Tenn.) Regional Forensic Center. The report stated, “An autopsy revealed extensive postmortem animal predation, but no findings of antemortem/perimortem trauma (i.e. Mr. Hill was not attacked by a bear).”
Park officials made the decision to euthanize the bear without knowing Hill’s initial cause of death. According to a release from the park, that decision was made after consulting wildlife professionals and knowledge of the bear’s aggressive behavior. Being home to an estimated 1,500 bears, park officials say that displays of aggressive behavior are rare, and that park biologists and rangers try to prevent bears from becoming used to people or staying in high-use areas. They use aversive conditioning, but on rare occasions euthanize bears that pose a threat to visitors.