GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) – A spokesperson for The Great Smoky Mountains National Park says they “do not have enough identification information” to pursue the man caught in a now viral video with some bears in East Tennessee.
Video sent to WVLT News shows what appears to be a man confront a mother bear and her cubs in Cades Cove Saturday.
Paige Marple was in the loop with her boyfriend and brother July 13th when they noticed the mother and cubs. Paige said they stayed in their truck and watched from a distance as the man approaches the bear.
“It was pretty intense for a second because I just knew he was going to end up in a body bag,” Marple said. “How he didn’t is beyond me.”
In the video, the bear appears to lunge, or bluff charge, at the man and he backs off. The bear and three cubs then continue across the street and into the woods.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park wants visitors to be aware that bears are wild animals, and can be dangerous or unpredictable.
It’s illegal to come within 50 yards of bears in the park, and violations can result in fines and arrest. Supervisory Wildlife Biologist Bill Stiver says keeping people away from the bears isn’t easy.
“We have a huge problem with that, I think one of the things visitors can do is they can help report that kind of stuff, because we can’t be everywhere all the time, so self-policing is kind of important,” Stiver said.
Stiver also said bears are not “put down” for bluff charging visitors.
Marple said, “All I want is for people to understand that they need to stay in their vehicles and away from these animals. If they are approaching you in your vehicle stay put and leave them be. This is their home and their habitat.”
The national park issued this statement to News Channel 11 on Monday:
To help us best protect bears in the park, it is critical that people act responsibly during their visit. Bears should never be fed or approached. We work hard to keep bears wild in a space shared with 11.4 million people. We need each visitor to do their part by always staying at least 50 yards back from bears and properly disposing of food waste – for their safety and that of the bears.
Bears are wild animals and their behavior is unpredictable. Mother bears are extremely protective of their young and they will aggressively defend their cubs from harm. By approaching a mother bear with cubs, visitors are putting themselves and others at risk of injury.