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Woman spots bear in South Knoxville backyard

"It freaked me out, it freaked the bear out. I think we were both just kind of shocked."

Early Saturday morning, Julia Greene was waiting for her dogs to come back inside from her South Knoxville backyard when she heard a loud sound.

"I thought it was maybe somebody up to no good," she said.

Instead, she came face to face with a hungry black bear, feasting on the contents of a neighbor's trashcan.

RELATED | Video: Black bear seen in South Knoxville

"It freaked me out, it freaked the bear out. I think we were both just kind of shocked."

The next night, the bear was back.

"I've see coyotes, I've seen fox, I've seen wild turkey, I've seen deer, but never a bear," she said.

But while Greene may not have seen a bear before, this is far from the first one spotted in Knoxville.

In 1997, a 200 pound black bear stumbled into downtown Knoxville. The same year, a bear was tranquilized in the old city.

In 2008 a man and his wife spotted a bear near West Town mall and in 2010, one was hit near Callahan drive.

Two years later, a bear attracted a lot of undergrad attention when it climbed a tree on UT's campus. It fell to a tranquilizer dart.

And earlier this year, a bear was photographed in a Cracker Barrel parking lot near East Town Mall.

It jumped on top of a teen's car, denting the top.

The TWRA says bears often travel through urban areas by following corridors cut through the woods by power lines. If you see one, wildlife officials say to stay away and don't feed the bears.

TWRA recommendations:

-Never feed or approach bears-- this includes carefully managing sources of human food or garbage to make sure the bears can't access it or aren't attracted to the area. When camping in bear country, keep all food stored in a vehicle and away from tents.

-If you live in a town near black bear habitats, you should not store food, garbage or other recyclables in areas accessible to bears. You also should avoid feeding birds or other wildlife where bears are active.

-Outdoor pets should only be fed a portion they will completely consume, and keeping grills and smokers cleaned and stored securely will also help deter bears.

-If you do encounter a bear, remove whatever attracted the bear to come into your area. There is almost always a safe escape route when bears enter towns. Crowd control is the initial concern as the behavior of a cornered bear can be unpredictable. Immediately report to the TWRA or local police any sightings of bears within areas of human population centers.

-While black bears are usually tolerant of humans, they should always be treated as wild animals, whether in residential or backcountry areas. Black bears are rarely aggressive towards people and typically go out of their way to avoid contact, however as human development continues and bear numbers increase, occasional interactions will be unavoidable.

-If you see a black bear from a distance, alter your route of travel, return the way you came, or wait until it leaves the area. Make your presence known by yelling and shouting at the bear in an attempt to scare it away.

-If approached by a bear, stand your ground, raise your arms to appear larger, yell and throw rocks or sticks until it leaves the area. Never run from a black bear! This will often trigger its natural instinct to chase.

For more information on how to peacefully co-exist with black bears, visit www.tn.gov.

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