KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The city of Gatlinburg and the Gatlinburg Police issued a reminder Thursday to locals and visitors to keep an eye out for bears and to avoid interaction with the animals after a recent increase in sightings.

City officials are concerned for the safety of the bears and humans and issued a reminder of six basics for safe human-bear interaction:

  • Never feed or approach bears.
  • Secure food, garbage and recycling.
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active.
  • Never leave pet food outside.
  • Clean and store grills.
  • Know what to do if you see a bear.

Black bears are seldom aggressive and attacks are rare, but if you see a bear before it notices you stand still, don’t approach and enjoy the moment; then move away quietly in the opposite direction.

If you encounter a bear that is aware of you, don’t run, as running may trigger a chase response. Back away slowly. Make sure bears are not cornered and have an escape route during any encounters.

Any bear sightings or incidents should be reported to Gatlinburg Police Department by calling 865-436-5181.