Bears expand their territory, spotted in new places

7:22 PM, Jul 28, 2013   |    comments
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(WBIR - Scott County) Bears in East Tennessee are a regular presence, but still turn heads when they show up in various areas.

Recently, there have been reports of sightings in Scott County.

Huntsville resident Stacie Botts said, until she sees a bear with her her own eyes, she will remain skeptical.

"I've lived here for over 20 years and I have never seen a bear. I've heard a lot of stories, but I've never seen it with my eyes so I don't really believe it," she said.

Tonya Williams also lives in Helenwood, but she has seen the animal.

"We've seen a momma and three cubs right by my house," Williams said.

Wildlife officials explained that it is uncommon to spot a bear so far from the Smoky Mountains. However, the number of sightings have increased in Scott, Fentress, Morgan, and Pickett Counties due to the increasing bear population from Big South Fork.

"With them expanding their range and their population increasing, you're subject to see one anywhere close to these center areas where they're orginating from," said TWRA Officer Wade Young.

Young reminds anyone who spots a bear to keep their distance.

"If it starts coming into your area, they're fairly easy to run off. Make some noise, blow a car horn if you're close to a vehicle. Make them feel uncomfortable and they will retreat," he said.

TWRA is working to roll out a new, educational program to teach people the proper response if they spot a bear. The agency is calling the program "Bear Wise."

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