JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – News Channel 11 viewers have been reporting an increase in bear sightings over the past week.
Photos and security camera footage have spotted black bears trekking across front yards and even coming up onto porches.
Officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency told News Channel 11 that the increased sightings are typical for this time of year. They attribute the increase to the region’s proximity to The Cherokee National Forest and the fact that summertime berries have yet to ripen.
Due to the limitation on berries, wildlife officials say this is leading bears out of the woods and into society in search of an easy meal. Whether it be your leftover dinner in your curbside trashcan, birdseed on your porch or pet food outdoors, they come for it.
Matthew Cameron, a spokesperson for TWRA, said it’s crucial people do not make an effort to feed these bears.
“Most people know that, they’ve heard that. Don’t feed the bears,” Cameron said. “They do a good job at it, but there’s always a percentage of the population that thinks the bears are starving or they’re hungry, so they try to do their part to try and ‘save’ them and help them, but they’re only compounding the problem.”
He strongly recommends securing trash and putting away any type of food that is outside on your property.
Cameron also said when you do encounter a bear, your presence will usually spook them and they will run away. However, that is not always the case.
If a bear approaches you, Cameron said to try to intimidate it by making yourself appear larger, making a loud noise or using bear spray.