KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — At around 2:30 a.m. neighbors in West Knoxville spotted something new in their community — a black bear walking through the area.
Home security footage in the Riverbend area near Lakeshore Park caught the bear as it approached a home before it walked back into the night. It smelled a home's outdoor trash can before stepping away.
Experts with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said that bears may be looking for their last big meals before the start of hibernation season. While bears may not sleep the entire winter, many stop moving around as much and try to conserve energy, as a response to less food being available over the season.
They enter 'torpor,' which is like a light kind of sleep that bears can wake up from.
The TWRA said that if people see a bear, they should leave it alone and carefully avoid it as much as possible.
"We also like to remind people that if you come across a bear in a den, don't assume it's in a tranquil state, like someone in a coma or something," said Matt Cameron, who works with the TWRA. "That bear can and will wake up, so leave them be because they do den in some unusual places."
Experts also said that if people feed their pets outside, they should be careful not to leave too much food out in case a bear decides it wants to eat it. If there is food left behind, they said it makes a person's yard an easy target to prowl around.