Charge dropped against man accused of causing bear’s death

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.

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Comments » 14

volhome#407234 writes:

This is beyond amazing. The man should have volunteered to step forward and admit his error. He did not. The courts should have found him guilty. They did not. We as a people should be ashamed of this performance. It is up to you how you respond. I weep for us as a society when we reach a question in times of obvious error and do not ask for ask for proper redress.

slugdiamond (Inactive) writes:

Are you KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!? This Yankee (I don't care) comes down here and prods a bear for a picture on (fill in narcissistic internet page here), gets away with it, and the bear loses its' life?

I swear, the next time I see a friggin' tourist doing the same thing (won't take long), I'm going to "remind him of the repercussions of said action".

slugdiamond (Inactive) writes:

This is hidden/directed to Knoxville.com ? How about not diverting 'news evidence' to a secondary site?

Less than a month ago, I walked on a not-so-secluded- trail on my way to the Cove, and returned to a traffic jam where the mother of a set of cubs in a tree - "we don't know where the mother is at" - were the center of attention. One car (northern plates) left their car running.

We just split.

slugdiamond (Inactive) writes:

in response to volhome#407234:

This is beyond amazing. The man should have volunteered to step forward and admit his error. He did not. The courts should have found him guilty. They did not. We as a people should be ashamed of this performance. It is up to you how you respond. I weep for us as a society when we reach a question in times of obvious error and do not ask for ask for proper redress.

Fellow "vol"!

I agree, unacceptable. I'm afraid the great Smoky Mountains have become nothing more than an extension of Pigeon Forge. $$$$$

slugdiamond (Inactive) writes:

Hi Jamie Satterfield!

I admire and respect your work. I can't understand why this is buried on Knoxville.com, instead of being exclusively on Knoxnews.com.(ahem). This is not 'entertainment', and certainly not what I would want browsers to associate with Knoxville and Tennessee.

exit109 writes:

Unbelievable - who really cares?

vols16#567738 writes:

in response to Bonobo:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually in this case "Citing news evidence unearthed by the National Park Service" must be KNS "speak" for the plural version of new evidence......reminds me of the plural version of y'all......all y'all. Ah yes, the "we was" generation.

sstirrer writes:

The defendant, Sean Konover: "...a 26-year-old Connecticut man..."

Typical Yankee.

Wayfarer writes:

If this is going to allowed to happen then I am for closing the park and returning it to families that were up rooted. This is insane. If the animals aren't going to be protected and those who violate the law aren't going to be held accountable then shut it down. My heart is aching.

skipp5 writes:

I say we confine anyone to 5 years in prison who has taken or in possession of a picture of a black bear in the Smokies.
I would suggest that all of you start rounding up your parents, grandparents and probably yourselves and head to the courthouse.
While we are at it lets include all those who have fed the bears intentionally or by leaving human food behind when visiting the park. Because these are actually the culprits as they have trained the bears to approach humans in search for easy food.

volhome#407234 writes:

in response to skipp5:

I say we confine anyone to 5 years in prison who has taken or in possession of a picture of a black bear in the Smokies.
I would suggest that all of you start rounding up your parents, grandparents and probably yourselves and head to the courthouse.
While we are at it lets include all those who have fed the bears intentionally or by leaving human food behind when visiting the park. Because these are actually the culprits as they have trained the bears to approach humans in search for easy food.

SK, let's do one thing at a time. We have one culprit, with evidence against him. There is little doubt that he is guilty, just letting his own film convict him. Should you want to address past transgressions, let's start with Abel Oh, wait, we don't have all of the evidence. One thing at a time, SK, one thing at a time.

sierramister writes:

Public Outrage did not follow, because the admins of the Laural Legacy facebook site insisted on controlling our thoughts, and thinking that they could talk their way to sanity. The people were outraged, but the admins tried to think that 8000 joined their group with hearts and rainbows on their mind. Their message has fallen by the wayside because they are not vocal.

therev writes:

yankees (small letters) they ride into our towns, trash our mountains and beaches snobby acting (not acting) "are" and think people from the South are beneath them.
To us the scariest thing a southerner can see is a car pulling a u-haul heading south with northern tags.

kayaker writes:

Bears are aggressive these days. They used to be afraid of hikers, and now they're not. I've been charged by bears, and they were not provoked. I won't be at all surprised if it's revealed that this bear had a history. The culpable people are the folks who tossed the snacks that acclimated the bear to humans.

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