Autopsy: Man in Smokies died from meth; bear fed on his body

Posted at 3:45 PM, Feb 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-04 16:45:23-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Park officials say an autopsy found that a man whose body was discovered being eaten by a bear in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in September died of accidental methamphetamine intoxication, not a bear attack.

A park news release Monday says officials decided to euthanize the bear that was feeding on the body of 30-year-old William Lee Hill Jr. of Louisville, Tennessee.

Officials say they didn’t know the definitive cause of death at the time but decided to euthanize a few days later for public safety reasons after consulting with wildlife professionals and further understanding the bear’s aggressive behavior.

Officials estimate 1,500 bears are in the park, and though very few show aggressive behavior toward humans, bears that pose a threat to visitor safety are euthanized on rare occasions.