06/07/2006

Black bear eating pet food on Tenn. porch killed by deputy

Animal not thought to be the one that killed child April 13

The Associated Press

COPPERHILL, Tenn.- A deputy killed a black bear after it climbed onto the porch of a home less than 5 miles from the federal recreation area where a bear fatally mauled an Ohio girl two months earlier.

The Polk County (Tenn.) Sheriff's Office reported the deputy fatally shot a bear that charged at him Monday night when he responded to a report that the animal was on the porch eating pet food.

"You've got people living in widely known (bear) habitats, and keeping dog food and cat food outside"that attracts them, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokesman Dan Hicks said.

TWRA officials said two weeks ago they felt increasingly confident they had caught the bear responsible for the fatal April 13 attack because there had been no more reports of aggressive bears.

Monday's incident hasn't changed that opinion.

"We don't believe it is in any way associated with that bear attack," Hicks said.

Hicks said matching bear tracks and other evidence from the Cherokee National Forest Chilhowee Recreation Area have agency officials confident that they trapped and euthanized the bear involved in the April 13 attack.

Elora Petrasek of Clyde, Ohio, was killed, and her mother, Susan Cenkus, 45, and 2-year-old brother Luke Cenkus were injured when a bear pounced on them at the recreation area. A 203-pound male bear was caught three days later and killed, but forensic tests have yet to come back to prove it was the killer.

"We should have some other answers on this first bear real soon," Hicks said.

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