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Bear stalked young boy in Smokies

The black bear that attacked an 8-year-old Florida boy in Great Smoky Mountains National Park last week “stalked the boy as prey,” park officials said Monday.

Parts of a tennis shoe matching those the boy’s father wore when he fought off the Aug. 10 attack were were found in the stomach of an 86-pound bear that rangers later shot.

Evan Pala of Boca Raton, Fla., was cut, scratched and bitten, and his father, John Pala, was cut in the attack near the park’s Rainbow Falls Trail. The two were treated and released at a local hospital.

The Palas did nothing to provoke the rare attack, which happened as the boy played in a stream, park officials said. They believe the attack was predatory, with the bear targeting the smallest.

The boy carried no food that might have attracted the hungry animal, officials said. It had not been previously captured for causing problems with people.

Bears in the 520,000-acre park have injured people eight times in the past decade, killing one.