TAZEWELL, Tenn. (WATE) – A black bear was on the loose in downtown Tazewell Tuesday afternoon, and police were cautioning people to not approach the animal. It later moved on.
The Claiborne County wildlife officer said the bear was “on good behavior right now” and heading north of town out of city limits, adding that the 300-pound black bear “hasn’t bothered anything yet” and was “just moving through.”
Neighbors told WATE 6 On Your Side the bear was also spotted wandering around residential areas, with police close behind.
The Tazewell Police Department says officers had encountered a black bear after multiple reports of bear sightings Tuesday.
TPD also said the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) had been notified, and they also had officers in the area.
According to police, the bear, described as a 300-pound black bear, was not violent and appeared to be looking for food.
“Please do not approach the bear,” police said on social media.
A major sighting was on Church Street behind the courthouse, then the bear traveled between Church Street and the Tazewell City Park.
Later, police made contact with the bear near a resident’s yard on Brooks Street.
A neighbor took video of the black bear, as it wandered in the yard and street. The neighbor, Jane Tucker, said she took the video just after 5 p.m. and that the bear walked in her neighbor’s yard and then into their shed.
Tucker said they called police, and they arrived with “rubber bullet guns” and followed the bear off into the woods.
“We have not nor do we intend to hurt the bear,” TPD said among the comments on its post regarding the bear. “Our officers have utilized TWRA issued rubber bullets to scare it off when it entered the park near where people were. Our goal is to move the bear back out into the wilderness.”
The Claiborne County wildlife officer issued some rubber buckshot to Tazewell police “if needed, as aversive conditioning.”
The TWRA says black bears are a state treasure and are naturally curious creatures. As humans, it’s “everyone’s responsibility to keep them wild and keep them alive.”
MORE ONLINE | Read TWRA’s Black Bear Facts here