A man whose body was found being eaten by a bear at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee died of a drug overdose, according to authorities.
Knoxville television station WVLT reported that William Lee Hill, Jr., 30, of Louisville, Kentucky, was found dead in the national park last September.
Officials who found his body said a bear was eating his remains. Authorities decided to euthanize the bear the next day, citing a public safety concern, even though Hill’s exact cause of death was not certain.
The Knox County Regional Forensic Center recently released Hill’s autopsy which concludes that he died of an accidental methamphetamine overdose.
Park officials released the following statement to TV station WATE in Knoxville on Monday:
“Very few bears exhibit aggressive behavior towards humans. Wildlife biologists and park rangers work hard to prevent bears from becoming food-conditioned or habituated to high-use areas. Out of an abundance of caution for the park’s 11 million park visitors, park staff implement aversive-conditioning techniques and, on rare occasions, euthanize individual bears that pose a threat to visitor safety.”