KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A massive 500-pound black bear made an area near Tusculum College in Greeneville home up until Thursday.
“Big Bruin” was causing problems for the Greenville community. So wildlife experts were called in to find him a better place to roam.
According to Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers, “Big Bruin” has been causing some issues for quite some time. For years, Greeneville residents would see the bear in their neighborhood getting into garbage cans and pet food left outside.
“Mainly the trash is the most common,” said TWRA wildlife officer Austin Wilson. “He’s getting in their dumpsters and pulling their trash all over the driveway. Stuff like that and getting into their food.”
Calls have been made to TWRA on several occasions but every time officers made it to the location, the bear was gone. Not this time though.
“This time when sergeant Carpenter got the call he actually got eyes on the bear and knew where it was at,” Wilson said. “So once he contacted me, we just made a plan to go and get him.”
Wilson said the bear wasn’t showing any signs of aggression but any bear in a populated neighborhood could become a danger,
“The longer that they stay in these neighborhoods and become habituated to people, he’s going to lose his fear of people,” Wilson said. “He’s not going to be shy and timid as a wild bear would.”
So, when they found a chance to capture Big Bruin, they took it. Tranquilizing him was one thing, but the officers found out quickly the job wasn’t over.
“It kind of became reality very quickly that this was a massive bear,” Wilson smiled.
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Wilson said the average black bear is 150 to 300 pounds. Bruin is 500. They needed some help, which is where the Greeneville Fire Department came in.
“In nearly 33 years in my service that’s the first time I’ve ever assisted with a bear,” Chief Marty Shelton with the Greeneville Fire Department said.
The two teams used a stretcher to get Big Bruin into the bed of a pickup truck, then to a transport cage to move him to the Cherokee National Forest.
“Time was of the essence where we had to where we had to get there before the sedation war off and keeping it safe for everybody because it’s been a nuisance for some time,” Shelton said.
The bear of a problem is now gone for the Greene County neighborhood. They just hope that Bruin likes his new home – and that he stays there.
TWRA officers said they do tag all the bears they relocate so they’ll know if the bear causes any more issues. Wilson also said right now is the time you may see more bears out and about.
The agency’s advice is if you see a bear in your neighborhood, make sure your trash is secure, don’t approach it, and call a wildlife officer if the bear is causing issues.