Elgin man's remains found in Great Smoky Mountain National Park with bear scavenging nearby

ELGIN, Ill. (WLS) -- Authorities are looking into whether the death of an Elgin man found in Great Smoky Mountain National Park had anything to do with the bear found scavenging at his campsite.

The national park in North Carolina is among the most scenic camping spots in the country. Situated in the Smoky Mountains, it is home to an assortment of wildlife, including black bears.

Officials say campers often come to the park to be closer to wildlife. Friday night, however, backpackers hiking in the area found an empty tent and what appeared to be human remains nearby. They called police, who discovered a black bear scavenging those remains.

They were identified as 43-year-old Patrick Madura of Elgin.

Park Service Spokesperson Jamie Sanders said there are nearly 2,000 black bears in the park, and they usually keep to themselves. The bears are accustomed to seeing people, but the park advises visitors to keep their distance from them. Sanders said the park have supervised wildlife experiences to make sure visitors can safely see the bears.

The National Park Service says on rare occasions bears have attacked people, but there is no indication that is what happened to Madura.

When officers witnesses a bear near the scene scavenging what appeared to be Madura's remains, they euthanized the animal.

Authorities have declined to say whether Madura was camping with others or alone. Madura lived in Willow Lakes Estates in Elgin. ABC7 Eyewitness News reached out to his relatives but have not yet heard back.

Sanders said millions of people visit Great Smoky Mountain National Park every year, and bear attacks or other incidents are extremely infrequent.

At this point, what caused Madura's death is not known. Authorities are waiting for autopsy results.
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