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Autopsy: Man in Great Smoky Mountains died from meth; bear fed on his body

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — 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 along the Tennessee-North Carolina border, and though very few show aggressive behavior toward humans, bears that pose a threat to visitor safety are euthanized on rare occasions.

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