A black bear that was captured and destroyed days after the fatal mauling of a girl was not the killer, wildlife officials said Wednesday after DNA tests indicated another bear was responsible.
The second bear has also been put to death.
FBI lab tests showed human DNA under the second bear’s claws, said Ron Fox, assistant director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. More tests will be done to determine whether the animal had any abnormalities that made it aggressive.
Elora Petrasek, 6, of Clyde, Ohio, was killed April 13 and her mother and younger half brother seriously hurt while the family visited a mountaintop swimming hole in the Cherokee National Forest.
A bear caught three days later in traps baited with doughnuts and honey buns was immediately put to death. The second bear was captured April 17 about 1½ miles from the site of the attack.
The attack was the second fatal black bear mauling in Tennessee since 2000, and just the 12th in the Lower 48 states in 100 years, according to the North American Bear Center. Black bears usually shy away from people.