Tennessee wildlife officials are investigating a viral video showing a nuisance black bear.
The video, which was posted to Facebook this week and shared in the group Sevierville Speaks Out, was viewed by thousands of people. In it, a black bear approaches an unnamed family while they’re grilling out.
The video has since been deleted.
Most of the people present are inside the house, but two men attempt to chase the animal away. They shout, throw beer and eventually toss a steak off the grill to district the bear, which is not deterred.
Facebook commenters criticized the family for feeding the bear, but Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokesperson Matt Cameron said don’t be so quick to pass judgment.
“I think they did the best they could under the circumstances,” Cameron told 10News.
Cameron said the family actually worked harder than most to scare the bear away. They do not appear to call the bear or intentionally attract it.
“Now throwing the steak, it’s not a good idea but maybe they thought, 'hey, if we feed it, it might leave,'” said Cameron.
He said the bear is clearly de-sensitized to humans. He also noted at least two tags on its ear, an indicator it could have been picked up for nuisance behavior before.
His main concern in the video was the family’s safety.
“At the point the bear showed up, actually stuck its nose in the grill and started to eat, it’s probably not a good idea to approach the bear,” said Cameron.
While it may be hard to stomach, he said when a bear has lost its fear of humans, it’s essentially already dead.
“There’s no hope for that bear,” said Cameron. “It’s not like you can rehabilitate it and change its mindset from being unafraid of people to being afraid of people.”
“Unfortunately, it will probably have to be trapped and be destroyed,” said Cameron.
Cameron said TWRA is not considering any charges against the family, and for that reason, 10News is not naming the original poster at this time. The family has contacted TWRA to help with the investigation.