Piney Flats black bear sightings leave residents concerned

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PINEY FLATS, Tenn. (WJHL) – After a black bear made an appearance in a Piney Flats neighborhood, some neighbors say they’re worried for the safety of residents in the area and wonder what comes next.

Piney Flats resident Rick Brademeyer has spotted the bear near his yard several times over the past couple of days.

“If you live in the country, and you have one in the woods behind you, that’s one thing,” Brademeyer said. “If you live in 50 condos, and you live in the city, that’s another thing.”

Sondra Torbett said she’s lived in Piney Flats all her life and has never seen a bear in the area until now.

“It was in our next-door neighbor’s yard eating apples off her tree,” Torbett said. “It was something to watch, it would stand up on its hind legs.”

The incident has Brademeyer raising questions, “What’s the policy? What do we do about this? When do we remove the bear?” Brademeyer said.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokesperson Matt Cameron said that bears aren’t typically relocated unless they start to cause problems.

“We don’t really have a protocol. Once it becomes habituated, once it becomes a nuisance, we would probably answer the call,” Cameron said. “We have what’s called the black bear matrix, and we would assess that bear’s behavior, and if it’s going aggressive towards humans, and it’s a repeated habituation scenario, then we might have to relocate that bear, but just a sighting is normal.”

Cameron said black bear sightings are something to be on the lookout for in your own yard, as the population is growing.

“It’s the time of year that bear sightings is going to increase, for a lot of reasons,” Cameron said. “One being that it’s breeding season for black bears, so they’re going to move because of it.”

“You don’t just find bears in the woods you can find them in your condominium association,” Brademeyer said. “We’ve tried to spread the word around to people here just to let them know to be careful.”

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