Pictures, videos and conversations lately have all revolved around bears, but some of these sightings aren’t happening just in the Smokies.
Many people have been sharing bear sightings on social media that are happening much closer to home. The White Pine Police Department recently posted on Facebook that they were helping a homeowner on Sheila Circle with a bear hiding in a backyard tree.
“Looked up and I saw the bear. I thought it was a rat or squirrel,” said homeowner Jim Samples.
White Pine police officers alerted him to the animal hiding in his tree.
“It wasn’t aggressive or anything like that,” explained Samples.
He then went on to alert others in his neighborhood, just in case.
“From what I could see, it was really pretty. It was a beautiful bear,” said Savannah Hurst.
While police officers stayed to monitor what was happening, the neighborhood started wondering one thing.
“They don’t come out here unless they feel like they have to, I think. What’s going on in the woods that would make him have to come out here?” asked Hurst.
“How did that bear get down here? I mean this is like in the middle of town, you know, actually it had to come through town to get here,” added Samples.
At some point the bear got down to the ground, ran through a few backyards, unsuccessfully tried climbing another tree and then Samples says the bear ran off across the road.
“It wasn’t bothering nothing and I didn’t really want to bother it, but I didn’t really feel like having a bear in a tree in my backyard,” he added.
No one is sure which direction the bear ran and they haven’t seen it since.
“It never stops to amaze me how beautiful it is here and that was just one more thing to make me love where I live,” said Hurst.
TWRA says bears will almost always find an escape route if they’re left alone. Wildlife experts add that bears can roam into campsites, neighborhoods and towns searching for food, which they say is a normal bear behavior.
Experts say many people in the Southeast don’t realize they live either close to or in a black bear habitat.
TWRA says if you see a bear in town or in your neighborhood:
- Never feed or approach bears
- Do not store food, garbage, or other recyclables in areas accessible to bears
- Do not feed birds or other wildlife where bears are active
- Feed outdoor pets a portion size they will completely consume during each meal and securely store pet foods
- Keep grills and smokers clean and stored in a secure area when not in use
- Talk to family and neighbors when bear activity is occurring in your area