When officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) received a report of a vicious bear attack in Campbell County earlier this month, the agency pulled out all the stops. A public advisory was put in place, traps were set, and conservation officers expected to capture—and potentially euthanize—an aggressive bear. Judging from the deep laceration wounds inflicted on 27-year-old Michael Savage, who said the animal attacked him while he was walking home on September 4, the bear was certainly dangerous. However, last week the TWRA lifted the warning and retrieved its traps. According to agency spokesperson Matthrew Cameron, the TWRA now believes that no animal attack occurred at all.
“We are citing a lack of evidence as the reason why we don’t feel like Mr. Savage was attacked by the bear or any other animal,” Cameron told the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Savage claims that an animal attack did occur, but is not sure it was a bear. Savage said he was walking home from his girlfriend’s house in the White Bridge area of Campbell County in the early morning when he was attacked.
“I got grabbed, and I got picked up off my feet, and I rolled around with what appeared, something appeared to be very big and black,” Savage told WATE 6. “It grabbed me and then I had a knife on me and I did stick it a few times. That’s when it scratched me on my stomach.”
The fight lasted 20 minutes and left Savage bleeding from multiple cuts across his torso and face. The man walked an additional three miles back to his house before being transported to a local hospital.
You can see an interview with Savage below:
TWRA officials stated there are no signs of a fight in the area that Savage had pointed out. Such a scuffle would have littered the ground with hair, blood, and other evidence, but investigators found none. Additionally, Cameron said that Savage’s wounds do not match that of a typical bear attack.
“There’s no defensive wounds on him, there’s no bite marks, they’re all lacerations,” Cameron said. “People that have been attacked by a bear will have bite marks on them, on their arms, their hands, on their back, and he just doesn’t have that.”
Cameron said that the TWRA is fairly certain that no animal attack occurred but will continue to investigate. If it does turn out to be a false report, the TWRA could charge Savage with a crime for wasting the agency’s resources. The agency noted that Savage did have a criminal record—reportedly including burglary, assault, and filing a false report—but did not say whether that history will be considered in the investigation.