WEARS VALLEY, Tenn. (WATE) — Residents in Wears Valley saw some surprise visitors when a family of bears came to visit earlier this week.

Three bears standing around a pole with an American flag
Picture Credit: Photographer Rickey Frasure

In a photo shared on Facebook, the family of bears can be seen surrounding a pole with an American flag. Jeannine Toth, who shared the photo taken by Rickey Frasure on Monday, coined the clan “patriotic bears.”

With over 550 likes and reactions on the original post, almost all commenters share similar thoughts: that the family of bears is adorable. A few commenters, however, shared some frustration that they thought the bears were being fed.

Although it may seem insignificant in a single occurrence, in June, 4 bears had to be euthanized after they became too comfortable with humans and became dangerous. A fifth bear died of a heat stroke after it became trapped in a car while looking for food. Black bears are naturally afraid of humans. However, if they are fed or are able to access human food, they associate the scent of humans with food and can become a threat to people, property, and themselves according to the U.S. Forrest Service.

Toth shared that the photo was taken on private property where hunting is not allowed, and that she, her husband, and their neighbors all take extra care to ensure the bears safety. Not only are the bears not fed by residents, but precautions have been taken to make sure that trash cans are secured whenever possible to keep the bears from finding any leftovers. Toth’s husband even built a special lock box for their trash can with wires to hold the cans closed, Toth said.

Nearby, there are some apple trees, Toth said. There is also undisturbed land in the area to allow the natural berries, plants, and trees to grow so the area’s bears, turkeys and rabbits still have access to the natural habitat and food supply.

Overall, the photograph captured a wonderful moment on a great day, and serves as a reminder that the bears can be enjoyed, just from a distance and with proper measures to keep the bears safe.