Dead bear in tree no honeymoon for Helen

A dead bear in a tree is no honeymoon for residents of Helen, a Bavarian-themed village tucked away in the Georgia mountains.

Helen is known for lively beerfests, not dead bearfests.

Helen is known for lively beerfests (above), not dead bearfests (below).

Local librarian Deborah Kelley said Monday that the bear, and its accompanying “powerful” stench, has attracted “bunches of people over there right now trying to figure out how to get him down.”

Kelley, who is not trained to identify large omnivores, said it looked to be about a 350-pound black bear caught high up in an oak tree near the library.

She took pictures but said “he was so high up I couldn’t zoom in far enough.” dead-bear

The dead bear has been in the tree, on public property near Unicoi State Park, since last Monday, said Kelley.

City Clerk Kim Smith said the city manager and public works director were thinking of ways to remove the animal corpse from the city-owned tree.

The state Department of Natural resources has been of little help, said Smith.

“When wild animals die in the wild you just let them be,” said Smith.

But that won’t work for Helen, a mountain town known by beer fans for hosting “The World’s Longest Octoberfest.” (It begins next Thurday, BTW.)

Fortunately for those with noses, the state Department of Agriculture dropped by and helped devise a plan to rid the town of its smelly bear problem.

According to Smith, a city worker will dig a large hole under the tree with a backhoe. Then, a city worker will ascend 40 or so feet in a bucket truck to cut the limb holding the beast, dropping the bear into its grave.

Thiry Helens Agree‘ bears are nothing new in the downtown area.

“We’re surrounded by a state and national forest,” said Smith. “The acorns are gone and Dumpster pickings in Helen are good.”

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: The bear is down! He’s resting in his new final resting place, an impromptu grave beneath the tree, says City Clerk Kim Smith. The tree is OK, just missing a couple of limbs, and the bear was covered with lime, to assist in decomposition, and plenty of dirt, she said.

50 comments Add your comment

aaron ashmore

September 19th, 2011
12:25 pm


September 19th, 2011
12:33 pm

Black bears are omnivores, George.

George Mathis

September 19th, 2011
12:35 pm

Thanks, I will fix that to make me appear more intelligent.

Bring the kids

September 19th, 2011
1:00 pm

Someone video this please lol. It reminds me of the whale that was blow up wih dynomite to “clear” the beach. I’m sure the tree will enjoy it’s root system being ripped up.

They missed a good headline

September 19th, 2011
1:05 pm

They should have said that the stench was un-bear-able…


September 19th, 2011
1:13 pm

Genius! Great plan! What could possibly go wrong?


September 19th, 2011
1:20 pm

Anyone planning on checking the cause of death? Beyond “Natural Causes” one might consider accidental or intentional poisoning, diseases (do bears contract rabies?) illegal hunting etc. I don’t recommend a major investigation but it seems like somebody ought to be curious.


September 19th, 2011
1:29 pm

Ok … correct me if I’m wrong, the lady said the bear was high up she couldn’t zoom in with her camara, but the city is gonna dig a hole around the tree and let the bear fall into it…LOL …
Thats has GOT to be the dumbest Idea I have ever heard… what a bunch of morons :) :) :) still laughing


September 19th, 2011
1:32 pm

so…Ghostrider…you have a better idea??? I’m sure they would love to hear it if you do…

YouTube Moment

September 19th, 2011
1:33 pm

As the Bear falls onto the bucket of the bucket-truck, the extra 500 pounds breaks off the lifting arm of the truck, and the whole horrible gory mess goes crashing into the hole…hopefully the city worker has the chance to jump to safety a split second before.

Better Idea: Simply dismember the bear with chainsaw

September 19th, 2011
1:36 pm

That way the only limbs you drop in the hole are bear limbs and not risk injury to the tree or city worker. Having watched numerous RoadRunner cartoons, there is always a certain risk that things do not always fall when and where you intend them to fall.


September 19th, 2011
1:40 pm


You really think thats a good idea…and do you really think thats gonna work…

Paper Mill Operator

September 19th, 2011
1:43 pm

I’d cut the whole tree down and send it to the paper mill. All the work can be done from the ground.


September 19th, 2011
1:43 pm

Duh folks! Chainsaw was almost at the solution…..just get on of those “portable holes” from the Roadrunner show and lay it on the ground. Once the bear is pushed out of the tree, drag it to the hole. Once it’s gone, go ahead and take the hole ( reusing it is GREEN folks ) and put it on the steps outside the congress and senate……there, 3 problems dealt with in one swift move…..thank ya, thank ya very much!


September 19th, 2011
1:44 pm

Just so you all know. The bear is in the hole the hole is covered up. The tree, city worker and bucket truck are all doing well.


September 19th, 2011
1:46 pm

better idea: you are using your carefully studied cartoons from 40 years ago to determine the best way to deal with this? hmmm.

just saying

September 19th, 2011
1:49 pm

or they could just cut the tree down!


September 19th, 2011
1:53 pm

Maybe they should just put a Bavarian outfit on the Bear so Helen will look at least 5% authentic (taken the Rebel flags down from the businesses might help another 5% too).


September 19th, 2011
2:08 pm

@jaime any reason that they cannot rig the bear up to the bucket and use it as a ‘crane’ to carry it to the ground?


September 19th, 2011
2:16 pm

He’s not dead, no, no, probably pining for the fjords…


September 19th, 2011
2:26 pm

Set the tree on fire=bear b que.


September 19th, 2011
2:32 pm

LOL. Bear-B-Que.


September 19th, 2011
2:32 pm

Nice how everyone ignored Kim’s update and remained convinced the plan would fail. I guess facts are no fun.


September 19th, 2011
2:45 pm

how do they know if this bear is dead for sure? dont they know the bear has feelings to. isen”t there any way easier way to do this than to drop him or here. i think these can be handle a better way than this.


September 19th, 2011
3:00 pm

Dietarily speaking bears are omnivores. Taxonomically speaking bears are in the mammalian order carnivores. there is a mammalian order known as insectivores, i am not aware of any order known as omnivores. You were originally correct and Robert is a myrmidon.


September 19th, 2011
3:04 pm

Why is this not on Fark yet?

1st Idiot

September 19th, 2011
3:04 pm

Congrats aaron for being a “first” idiot here.


September 19th, 2011
3:08 pm

Enter your comments here

Nature Nerd

September 19th, 2011
3:27 pm

Was burying it at the site a good idea? Was lime use?

“Disadvantages of trench burial include the potential for detrimental environmental effects, specifically water quality issues, as well as the risk of disease agents persisting in the environment (e.g., anthrax, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy [TSE] agents, etc.).” Maybe knowing a cause of death and conditon of the dead bear would be a good public health move.

“Some sources suggest that lime should be used to cover carcasses to discourage scavenging
by predators, to prevent odors, to retard decomposition (and therefore limit leachate production), or even to hasten decomposition. However, other sources directly contradict these assertions and maintain that lime should not be used because it can slow the decomposition process, the products of which are critical in helping to inactivate disease agents.”


September 19th, 2011
3:53 pm

Somebody shot him – A>.H


September 19th, 2011
3:55 pm

Why not hire a boom truck/crane to go up, hook a strap around it, and lift it out of the tree?


September 19th, 2011
3:59 pm

FInaly – a reason to visit Helen!


September 19th, 2011
4:20 pm

Lime does not assist with decomp it actuallys slowes it down.


September 19th, 2011
4:46 pm

Let me see, dead bear in tree, swole all up and smell like heck
AHHH YES, GOVERNMENT RESPONDING in a responsible manner. no arborists in north georgia?


September 19th, 2011
4:48 pm

Jim, is there something you know that no one else knows?


September 19th, 2011
4:49 pm

Enter your comments here


September 19th, 2011
4:50 pm

A person need to be trained to identified a bear? please….


September 19th, 2011
6:09 pm

“The state Department of Natural resources has been of little help,…”

What a surprise. Our state tax dollars at work.

Smokey the Bear

September 19th, 2011
6:27 pm

@ icestar: I’m still ROTFL at ur comment….I thought the same thing, too!

Channa dahl

September 19th, 2011
6:31 pm

It’s interesting how the town seems “put out” by the bear being there…..even though decades ago, the bear’s (or, at the very least his ancestors’) habitat was cleared to make way for the town.

Helen and Bear Lover

September 19th, 2011
7:13 pm

Hi All,If you’ve never been to Helen Ga plan to visit is such a quaint town,especially the Fudge Shoppe.


September 19th, 2011
8:39 pm

Did anyone call Smokey to get his professional opinion?


September 20th, 2011
12:26 am

They don’t have buzzards in Helen?

David Voorhies

September 20th, 2011
7:15 am

I wonder if he was the SOB (son of a bear) that broke into my RV refrigerator @ Unicoi Springs last Summer, and ate all my food? We often see two bear families come through the campground nightly “hunting” food.

Randall Reed

September 20th, 2011
8:28 am

The city fathers needed to think things through: Adding lime (or “quick lime”) to the carcass is reported to reduce the odor, but that is only because it kills the bacteria which produces the smell as a biproduct of decomposition. With Octoberfest looming, I would have recommended letting the carcass decompose as quckly as possible and just pile extra leaves and debris several feet on top of the grave mound. This would produce a “composting environment,” speed decomposition and stop any lingering odors that may eminate from the gravesite. Remember: you are trying to get the thing to go away as quickly as possible: Lime only slows down the process. You may well have lingering “whiffs” for months to come with the lime slowing down nature’s processes. HTH.

Paper Mill Operator

September 20th, 2011
2:15 pm


September 20th, 2011
6:40 pm

I wonder what happened when that rotten bear corpse hit the ground from that height? can we say SPLAT! ewwwwwwww! I would not want to be standing near it when it hit! Poor Bear..


September 20th, 2011
8:28 pm

What’s with being first on all these blogs? You are acting like over-grown kids. Grow up, or stay out of the blogosphere.

we steal ruin this state

September 21st, 2011
6:58 pm

I don’t think I would eat BBQ in Helen anytime soon. Nothing but chicken for me.


September 22nd, 2011
1:13 pm

i was there when the bear was removed from the tree. it was rumored that the bear was shot and had climbed the tree to die. we dug a hole about 5 or 6 feet deep. we then cut away all the lower limbs in the tree to prevent the bear from getting stuck again. we cut the 3 limbs that the bear was resting on and the bear fell directly into the whole just like planned. we then covered the bear with lime, 3 or 4 feet of dirt and then we placed more lime on top of the dirt to positively prevent more stinch. i think everything was handled very well by the City of Helen, Dept of Agriculture, and DNR.