In the past couple of weeks a teenage girl and two hikers on the AT have had encounters with wildlife much closer than they ever desired. One person is now hospitalized with serious wounds and two others are very thankful that they are not in a hospital themselves.
If you haven't heard about the young woman in Yellowstone, she was seriously injured but the injuries are reportedly not life threatening. She was standing 3-6 feet away from the bison to pose for a picture, way, way too close. For the hikers they were awakened by the bears tearing into their tent to steal their packs. The two women hiked out through the night to get away from the campsite and to a known safe area.
Both of these incidents could have been easily prevented by people learning to respect wildlife. Last month I was in the Smokies and fortunate to catch a view of a pair of bull elk, then of the idiot who decided to try and get as close as he could to them. Fortunately for him, they remained docile but they can and have been known to attack. Their hooves can split skulls and break bones. But people need to learn to respect them and maintain a distance. The National Park Service recommends a distance of 25 yards whenever possible.
For the hikers, do not sleep with tasty scents in your tent. Yes I know it's the AT and you want to go light but bring something to hang your pack away from your tent. A pound is not worth your life.