Shopping, food... and bears! Turkey Creek had it all Tuesday when an unexpected visitor graced West Knox County.

Yes... a bear was spotted wandering around Turkey Creek Tuesday evening!

Tom George is from Florida and was staying at Homewood Suites off Turkey Drive. He snapped this picture in the hotel's parking lot, saying a bear was the last thing he expected to see while visiting the Knoxville area.

Turkey Creek Bear
A bear was spotted at Homewood Suites in Turkey Creek.
Submitted: Tom George

“It freaked me out, we don’t have bears where I’m from,” George said.

The bear wasn't causing any trouble that guests knew of. There are dozens of restaurants nearby, so it's not difficult to imagine why the bear was paying a visit.

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The hotel called animal control to look into the wandering bear, and animal control said they contacted the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to track it down and monitor it.

The TWRA will typically let roaming bears be so long as they move on and don't cause trouble or show aggressive behavior. It is typical for bears to travel long distances in search of food or territory.

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“We’re closely monitoring the situation, keeping abreast of developments regarding the bear and his travels,” said Knox Co. Wildlife Officer Jeff Webb.

Viewer Matt Lynch spotted a bear while driving on Pellissippi Parkway at Hardin Valley around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. He said he pulled over to get a picture and the bear was not frightened at all by him or his truck. We have no way of knowing for sure, but it's a good chance it's the same bear because of the proximity to the previous siting.

Bear off Pellissippi Pkwy
Matt Lynch took this photo of a black bear off Pellissippi Pkwy. at Hardin Valley.
Matt Lynch

While sightings are rare around Greater Knoxville, this is just another reminder that we do, in fact, share space with bears! Similarly in June 2018, a bear had been spotted on the other side of the county at a Cracker Barrel near Knoxville Center Mall.

Wildlife officials ask that residents in the area keep their garbage properly contained and avoid intentionally or unintentionally feeding the bear. Go to bearwise.org for more information about coexisting with bears.

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