Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said that they have received an increase in calls about black bear sightings. They said these reports tend to increase in spring and early summer.
During this time, they said bears that are just over a year old tend to leave their mothers and move into new territory in search of food, water and shelter. They said that an increase in outdoor activities like hiking or camping also increases the chance for a person to spot a bear.
The TWRA also said that people may unknowingly attract wild animals, including bears, around their homes by placing items like birdfeeders, birdbaths and pet food bowls outside. They said leaving trash outside could also unintentionally lure bears closer to people.
They gave some tips to help people be safe around bears. They are listed below.
- Never follow a black bear. Give wildlife plenty of room to vacate an area. Following an animal for photos can unintentionally put wildlife or humans in harm’s way.
- Never intentionally feed bears and look for unintentional food sources around homes. Trash, birdfeeders, unpicked garden vegetables, greasy grills and outside pet food can attract bears.
- Secure food, garbage, recycling, and grills in areas not accessible to bears and other wildlife. Place trash in bearproof containers and place out the morning of pick up.
- Alert neighbors to bear activity and make noise when exiting your home to alert wildlife and provide time for them to move away.
The TWRA also encouraged people to stay Bearwise. These tips are meant to keep people safe while bears are active in East Tennessee. They include backing away slowly if a bear spots you, never approaching a bear, and not leaving trash or food scraps outside where bears may find them.