Bears scavenge trash cans at Gatlinburg gas station

Local News

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — It was a typical spring day in Gatlinburg, which means bears were sighted as they’ve been emerging from their winter dens for weeks and getting more active.

At a gas station near Dudley Creek Wednesday evening, several people witnessed some black bears wreak havoc on a few trash cans near the gas pumps.

Drivers were mere feet away from the wild animals, which had knocked over the trash containers and were digging through the contents in search of food.

“Oh my goodness! You see ’em? There’s two,” one viewer could be heard saying in a video shared with WATE 6 On Your Side. That video was filmed by Seth Brink.

In another viewer video, the bears can be seen kicking a trash bin, scattering refuse on the pavement.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is reminding people that the Gatlinburg area is part of the bears’ natural habitat and roaming area; the agency encourages that people stay “bear aware.”

Here are some other reminders from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency about bears:

  • While black bears are usually tolerant of humans, they should always be treated as wild animals, whether in residential or backcountry areas.
  • Black bears are rarely aggressive towards people and typically go out of their way to avoid contact, however as human development continues and bear numbers increase, occasional interactions will be unavoidable.
  • Black bears are extremely powerful animals whose behaviors can be unpredictable.
  • Black bears are very curious animals and this should not be confused with aggression.
  • Startled bears will often confront intruders by turning sideways to appear larger, make woofing and teeth clacking sounds, salivate, lay their ears back and slap the ground with their paws. These are warnings for you to leave the area.
  • Bears will often stand on their hind legs to get a better view or a better sense of hearing and smell.
  • Never feed or approach bears.

The Southeast region is home to some 72,000 black bears, according to BearWise. For more information about black bears, you can also visit the “BearWise” program page.

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