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Glenda Ann Bradley is dead. She was minding her own business on a
beautiful Sunday afternoon, waiting for her friend, Ralph, to try a few
more casts into a different fishing spot. Had her killer been a
drug-crazed teen with a gun, her death would have triggered another
barrage of gun-control propaganda from the White House. Election-minded
politicians would be parading to the podium to press for stronger gun
laws, for registration of all guns — to put an end to this senseless
killing.

But it was not a drug-crazed teen that killed Glenda Ann.

Pat Taylor grew up with Glenda Ann. They went to church together as
children. Glenda Ann went off to college and came back to teach at
Jones Cove Elementary School in the mountains of East Tennessee. She
was the kind of person everyone loved. Sometimes when Pat couldn’t make
it on time, Glenda Ann would take Pat’s daughter home with her after
school. Glenda Ann’s death was a shock to Pat — and a loss to the
entire community.

Glenda Ann didn’t need killing. She had wronged no one. She was
minding her own business, enjoying a Sunday afternoon in the Smoky
Mountains National Park, the most-visited National Park in the country.
Ralph left Glenda Ann alone about 2:00 p.m. to try one more spot. He
was gone about an hour. When he returned to the spot where he had left
Glenda Ann, all he saw was her trail pack. He called to her. No
answer. He looked in the woods beside the trail. About 40 yards away,
near where the Little River and Goshen Prong trails come together, Ralph
saw a black bear and a yearling cub, toying with what was left of Glenda
Ann.

Ralph shouted and threw rocks at the bears, but they would not
retreat. Another fisherman heard the commotion, saw what had happened
and struck-out hiking to the Elkmont Campground to find a Park Ranger.
Ralph’s cries for help attracted about a dozen campers and hikers, all
of whom tried to drive the bears away from Glenda Ann’s body. The bears
were not frightened — nor were they about to leave their dinner.

For nearly three hours, Ralph and the group of hikers and campers
watched in horror as the bears tore away the flesh from this sweet,
50-year-old school teacher’s body.

The Park Rangers showed up at 6:05 and shot the two bears.

When a six-year-old boy from a broken and drug-infested home shot
another six-year-old, the media and the White House went into overdrive,
exploiting every opportunity to denounce guns and call for more gun
control.

Where is the outrage for Glenda Ann’s needless death? Where is the
media? Where are Bill and Al? Where are the demands to outlaw bears in
National Parks?

More likely, the fatal mauling of Glenda Ann will be used as an
excuse to further restrict human use of National Parks. Michael Pelton,
who led a black-bear research project for the University of Tennessee,
said “It sounds like a predatory response on the part of the animal. I
have to think the bear had an instinctive reaction when the person
started running or somehow responding as prey.”

Nancy Gray, a spokeswoman for the park, says “We normally tell
visitors to be dominant and wave things and yell when they encounter a
black bear, because the bear usually will run off.” The bear, which had
been tagged in 1998, did not run off. Another bear mauling occurred in
1989 in the park, but that victim didn’t die. Nor did any of the other
17 victims of bear incidents recorded that year.

According to Kim DeLozier, park wildlife biologist, there have been
37 recorded black-bear fatalities in the United States. One of them
occurred in Yellowstone National Park.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the first national
parks to be designated as a U.N. Biosphere Reserve in 1976. Since that
designation, management of the park — and all of the other 47 U.N.
Biosphere Reserves — including Yellowstone National Park, has undergone
a transition of purpose. No longer are the parks managed for the
benefit and enjoyment of people but for “conservation objectives.”

Park officials began monitoring black bears nearly 30 years ago, at
which time they estimated the bear population to be 300 to 500 animals.
Today, there are about 1,800 bears in the park. New studies reveal that
grizzly bears, too, are experiencing a population explosion in and
around Yellowstone National Park. Estimates in 1985 put the number of
bears in the Yellowstone area at 44. This is the estimate that landed
the critter on the endangered species list — which the Sierra Club
still says requires the impoundment of 14 million acres around the park
as a buffer zone for bear recovery. Actual DNA analyses of bear hair
has now confirmed the number of grizzly bears in the area to be more
than ten times the reported estimates.

Philip Francis, acting superintendent of the Smoky Mountains National
Park, said that Glenda Ann’s death won’t affect the park’s bear
management policy. Where is the outrage?

Had the gun-control laws allowed Glenda Ann to pack a 357, she would
probably be in jail today, for killing the bear. But she would be
alive.

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