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Bears start leaving hibernation across East Tennessee, wondering into neighborhoods

“We heard a loud noise, we turned around and saw the bear totally destroyed our bird feeder,” said a Lenoir City woman.

LENOIR CITY, Tenn. — It is that time of year; wildlife experts said bears are out of hibernation and moving around in East Tennessee.

One woman in Lenoir City said a bear cleaned out her bird feeder on Sunday night, visiting her home for a quick snake. Cynthia Gerding and her husband were having dinner in the backyard at their home in Lenoir City when they spotted the bear.

“We heard a loud noise, we turned around and saw the bear totally destroyed our bird feeder,” said Gerding. 

She said that after the bear ate every drop of bird food, he decided to hang out for a while. 

“He stuck around for a while, laid down, and when it started to rain he got up and lumbered into the woods,” she said. “We turned around slowly, looked for the cat, got her in, took our food in, and went back out on the porch and watched him some more.” 

Wildlife experts said people in East Tennessee need to stay BearWise as they start wandering through the area once again. That means getting rid of outdoor trash, making sure no food is outside and taking down birdfeeders. These steps could discourage bears from stopping by a person's home, experts said.

“That is not uncommon in many areas. Specifically, in Tennessee, bears are after really high-calorie food sources, and bird feeders are that,” said Janelle Musser from the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. 

Gerding says although they were not scared of the bear, from now on, they'll be keeping a closer eye on their cat and taking a break from having dinner outside. 

“We probably won't be doing that at dusk or dawn times for a good couple of weeks,” said Gerding. 

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