National park sign vandalized with racist message, bear skin

Investigators at Great Smoky Mountains National Park are trying to identify who mounted a cardboard sign with a racist message and hung the skin and head of a black bear over one of its signs

WALLAND, Tenn. — The National Park Service is trying to identify who mounted a cardboard sign with a racist message and hung a black bear skin over an entrance sign at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Visitors reported seeing the bear skin and sign on Saturday morning on a welcome sign near a highway intersection in Walland, Tennessee, a Park Service statement said.

Investigators offered a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to those responsible.

“We encourage anyone with information to reach out to us as we continue to investigate possible motives,” Chief Ranger Lisa Hendy said. “We take vandalism incidents seriously in the park, and this particular incident is particularly egregious.”