Two Indiana tourists who were staying in Gatlinburg this summer have pleaded guilty to intentionally feeding a black bear.
In July, Billy Harden, 40, and Dawn Cantrell, 27, from Nashville, Indiana, were staying at a rental cabin with their children. A yearling black bear was outside, and despite warnings not to feed the bears, that's exactly what the family did.
They posted photos on social media, which eventually came to the attention of TWRA.
The pair pleaded guilty on October 27. Both were fined $200 each with court costs of $270 each.
“Feeding bears eventually results in them becoming completely habituated to approaching people and ultimately becoming dependent on humans as a food source," said Wildlife Officer Scott Reasor, who investigated the case. "Once this happens, they lose interest in natural foraging and have to be removed from that environment and in some extreme cases, euthanized.”
As of September of this year, TWRA documented 603 black bear incidents, with the majority being simple bear sightings. Others incidents range from garbage issues and property damage to bears struck by vehicles and orphaned cubs. Lucikly, TWRA has only reported four incidents involving aggressive bears.