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Real bear skin draped over Foothills Parkway entrance sign, vandals still not found

Great Smoky Mountain Park Officials are asking the public for help to find the person responsible for vandalizing the Foothills Parkway West Entrance Sign near the Highway 321 intersection in Walland.
Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 5:06 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2020 at 5:10 PM EDT
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WALLAND, Tenn. (WVLT) - Great Smoky Mountain Park Officials are asking the public for help to find the person responsible for vandalizing the Foothills Parkway West Entrance Sign near the Highway 321 intersection in Walland.

A photo shows a bear was draped over the sign next to a piece of cardboard with the words “from here to the lake black lives don’t matter” scrawled on it.

A Great Smoky Mountain National Park official clarified that the bearskin was from a real black bear. Investigators don’t know exactly when it was killed or where it came from but forensic investigators are working to find out.

Officials said the incident occurred sometime between September 18 and 19. Rangers were alerted to the vandalism after it was reported by visitors around 7:45 a.m., Saturday.

“We encourage anyone with information to reach out to us as we continue to investigate possible motives for this incident.” said Chief Ranger Lisa Hendy. “We take vandalism incidents seriously in the park, and this particular incident is particularly egregious. It is for this reason we are offering a reward for information.”

According to a release, investigators are offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of those responsible. Respondents are asked to contact investigators through any of the following means:

  • CALL or TEXT the ISB Tip Line at 888-653-0009
  • ONLINE at www.nps.gov/isb and click “Submit a Tip”
  • EMAIL nps_isb@nps.gov
  • MESSAGE on Facebook @InvestigativeServicesNPS or Twitter @SpecialAgentNPS

On Tuesday, the NPS pleaded with the public to stop calling the tip line to share opinions on the incident. A spokesperson said the line must be reserved for tips only to keep the line clear and help officials find the person responsible.

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