Shutdown thefts and odd animal crimes in Smokies; Tennessee NPS sites “lucky”

Thefts, break-ins, and odd crimes involving animals have surfaced in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) as rangers take stock of any damages during the government shutdown.

GSMNP spokesperson Dana Soehn said rangers discovered the theft of several tools from a facility in Cosby. The rangers had not determined the total value of stolen items. There was also a break-in at a campground office, but the office was closed for the season and nothing was stolen.

The workers in the Smokies came across what initially appeared to a poaching incident in Cades Cove when three dead deer with gunshot wounds were found near the side of the road. Rangers determined it was actually a case of illegal dumping. The deer were killed legally outside the park and donated to a man who failed to clean the animals before the meat spoiled. He hauled the deer to Cades Cove and disposed of them. Soehn did not have an explanation for why the man chose to dump the rotting deer several miles inside the national park.

Some campgrounds are likely to open later than usual this year due to the shutdown. Otherwise, there are no lasting impacts on visitors to the Smokies.

Other National Park Service properties in East Tennessee reported minimal impact from the shutdown and are yet to discover any cases of major vandalism, theft, or poaching.

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