Rangers catch bear after deadly attack
Animal suspected in Ohio family's mauling euthanized
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(CNN) -- Authorities captured a bear Sunday that they suspect was responsible for the mauling of an Ohio family in the rugged mountains of eastern Tennessee, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman said.
The rare attack by a black bear occurred Thursday during the family's outing to a waterfall in a remote part of the Cherokee National Forest. The bear killed a 6-year-old girl and seriously injured her mother and brother.
The bear killed Elora Petrasek, 6, of Clyde, Ohio. Her mother, Susan Cenkus, 45, was in critical condition at a Chattanooga hospital. Her brother, Luke Cenkus, 2, was hospitalized in stable condition. (Watch ranger perplexed by attack -- 2:44)
A three-day effort to trap the animal ended at noon Sunday when rangers found a bear in one of eight traps they had set across the recreation area, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Sharon Moore said.
Rangers were not certain the captured bear is the one that attacked the family, but its size led officials to believe they caught the bear they had been seeking, she said.
It was euthanized and sent to the University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville for examination, Moore said.
Officials want to know if an illness might explain its behavior.
Black bears usually avoid humans. The girl's death is only the second confirmed fatal black bear attack in Tennessee, the U.S. Forest Service said.
Forest Ranger Dan Hicks said he was perplexed by the attack "because it goes against what I've been telling the public for a long time."
The attack took place at Benton Falls near the Chilhowee Recreation Area, about 22 miles east of Cleveland, Tennessee.
The bear scaled a fence and picked Luke Cenkus up by the head, holding the toddler aloft, Hicks said. Susan Cenkus tried to save her son by distracting the bear, which resulted in her being mauled, too.
When paramedics arrived about 20 minutes later, they found Elora Petrasek a short distance away, the bear hovering over her mauled body. She may have been trying to run away when she was caught, Hicks said.
Doctors at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga say Susan Cenkus has soft tissue injuries to her upper and lower extremities that will require additional surgeries.
Luke Cenkus, whose skull was punctured, was in stable condition after surgery, doctors said.
In a written statement asking for privacy, the family called Thursday's events "understandably very difficult for the entire family to cope with."
The Forest Service temporarily closed the Chilhowee Recreation Area and the Parksville Campground, as well as several roads and trails in the vicinity of the attack.
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