KNOXVILLE — Citing news evidence unearthed by the National Park Service, federal prosecutors have dropped a misdemeanor charge against a 26-year-old Connecticut man who has been vilified for months as the cause for the euthanization of a black bear in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
On Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Schmutzer asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton to drop the charge against Sean Konover in connection with a May incident on the Laurel Falls trail, saying, “There is a question as to Mr. Konover’s culpability.”
Konover was in the Smokies when he photographed of a 60-pound, 2-year-old black bear that took a grazing swipe at his foot.
The young bear was euthanized as a result per Park Service policy, and Konover was accused of causing that death by advancing on the cub to get a photograph. Public outrage followed.
Animal lovers dubbed the cub “Laurel” and created a Facebook page to both honor the slain bear and decry tourists who treat a bear’s habitat like a theme park.
More details as they develop online and in Tuesday’s News Sentinel.
© 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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