KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A family in South Knoxville is keeping their bird feeders empty for a while after a visit from an American Black Bear Wednesday evening.
Resident Megan Ramirez said she heard a “clank” on a bird feeder outside her bedroom window around 6 p.m. Wednesday and looked outside expecting to see a squirrel for her to scare off. Instead, Ramirez saw what appeared to be a young black bear.
“He was yanking down all the bird feeders,” Ramirez said. “We love the bears, we always go to Cades Cove to see them so we were in awe that there was another one in our yard.”
Ramirez said they had had another bear visitor to their bird feeders in 2020. She says she yelled for her family to come take a look through the window to watch the animal.
“We all grabbed our cameras and watched from the windows,” she said. “How often do you see that in a neighborhood?”
She added that bear sightings in their residential neighborhood, which is located off West Governor John Sevier Highway, do not happen often; however, they had a bear come to their bird feeder back in 2020, around the time the parks were shut down when the coronavirus pandemic started.
“We had a big guy come and visit us and tear down another one of my bird feeders,” she said. “But we just took the feeders down for a couple of weeks and we never saw them again.”
Ramirez and her family know to stay away from bears, give them space and not refill the bird feeders in order to let them move on.
“That’s all you can do, just try not to feed them,” she said. “We love to see them, we’re not scared of them, we just try and educate ourselves.”
Bear sightings in and around the Smokies region are common for this time of year as they’ve emerged from hibernation and forage for food sources; plus, area berries have not yet fully ripened. Two bear attacks have been reported in Sevier County, with both resulting in the euthanization of the bears due to human injuries.
This week, a bear that scratched a 90-year-old woman as she was sitting on the front porch of her Sevierville home was caught and euthanized. On June 12, a bear tore into a tent injuring a woman and her daughter. It was also euthanized because of it showed signs of regular human contact.
BearWise, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency say if you encounter a bear, there are several tips to keep in mind – never approach bears, never feed a bear, and do not leave food or trash unattended. Also, experts say making a lot of noise is a good method for scaring away bears.