Bear spotted dumpster diving in Campbell County


CAMPBELL COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – We’ve received another reminder of just how closely we share our East Tennessee home with bears.

Caught on camera, an encounter with bears foraging Tuesday in a Campbell County dumpster.

A WATE 6 On Your Side viewer, Kila Ayers, sent us a ReportIt! video that was recorded Tuesday evening. Ayers said the encounter happened at Campbell County’s Peabody Convenience Center.

That center is on Highway 25 West between LaFollette and Jellico.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokesman Matt Cameron said bears frequently visit the dump sites and the county has taken corrective measures to deter the animals:

“After talking to wildlife officers, our black bear coordinator and our wildlife program coordinator, I have learned that at the county operated convenience center at White Oak, we had as many as 11 different bears at one time eating in the dumpsters last year. After working with the county mayor and offering technical advice, the county has taken corrective measures to deter bears by placing a chemical repellent on the dumpsters. Also, wildlife officers say that a Great Pyrenees dog has shown up at the convenience center and seems to be helping deter the bears. Since then, have had only one bear complaints at that location this year and this is the first bear we’ve heard of at the newer Peabody site. We applaud the county’s efforts in working towards making their convenience centers bear resistant.”

– Matt Cameron, TWRA

Bill Rutherford, the Campbell County environmental director, saying the county recycling sites were having bear encounters for a couple of years, before he was in office.

Rutherford said they had deterrent systems in place, but they weren’t stopping the bears from continuing their routines; the new plan is to use the money to build a six-foot tall fence with barb wires around the facility.

Both TWRA and Rutherford wanted to remind people not to get too close to the bears and not to feed them.

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