Wildlife officers train for bear attacks

(WBIR-Gatlinburg) It's no secret that black bears roam the wilderness of East Tennessee.

However, how can wildlife officers handle the possibility of a bear attack? The last time someone died from such an attack in Tennessee was in 2006.

"The bear population is increasing; human population is increasing. We hope it never ever happens, but if it does, we need to be prepared," said TWRA chief Daryl Ratajczak.

On Thursdsay, TWRA hosted a mock bear attack in Gatlinburg. Five scenarios were set up, with officers from various wildlife agencies in the south, using their skills to handle the situation. One of the dramatizations involved a young boy killed by a wandering bear. Actors and props were used to make the simulation more authentic.

"Learning how to handle victims, witnesses, dealing with local law enforcement that's on scene, dealing with EMS folks, dealing with news media that's on scene," said Brian Sommers, a game warden from Montana who helped with setting up the demonstration.

While Tennessee has not had a fatal bear attack in nearly a decade, wildlife officers say there's still a risk -- especially with the wilderness right in our backyard.

"But we can't tell you if it'll happen tomorrow, one year, ten years, 100 years. So more than likely it's going to happen," added Ratajczak.


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