KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Appalachian Bear Rescue and a Sevier County woman are urging residents and cabin renters to better secure their trash after one bear was killed and another was injured by a car in Wears Valley.

The woman who found the bear Ingrid Ericsen said, “I’m so thankful ABR (Appalachian Bear Rescue) is here. I’m thankful he’s in their care.”

Ericsen said there’s a trash problem in her Wears Valley neighborhood which was ultimately the reason, she says, two bear cubs were hit by a car.

“The reason these bears were at the road was because they were eating trash and they were eating trash that they probably had pulled out of trash bins at rental cabins, and those trash bins were not secure,” Appalachian Bear Rescue Executive Director Dana Dodd said.

Dodd was the one who got the call from Ericsen about the cub that was still alive.

“Once I saw he was breathing, I knew we didn’t have the luxury of sitting around, or he didn’t, in my opinion, didn’t have the luxury of waiting around for quite a while for a representative to show up and help him,” Ericsen said. “So we made the decision to get him help as fast as we knew we could.”

Getting the bear’s immediate attention was front of mind for Ericsen as she put the injured cub in her personal car and drove it to ABR.

“It was a unique circumstance and it is really dangerous,” Dodd said. “Even the smallest cub can do a lot of damage. So it’s never advised to pick up any bear and put it in your vehicle or approach those bears at all. We do understand what happened and we’re just glad everything worked out fine and nobody was hurt.”

The bottom line, both Dodd and Ericsen said they want this to be a lesson for residents and visitors to pick up their trash, get bear-resistant containers, and advocate for laws that prevent feeding wildlife.

 “When you see a dead cub and a severely injured cub laying in the middle of the road next to piles of trash that they took from bins that are not secure at rental cabins, it says it all,” Dodd explained. 

“Don’t leave your trash where the animals are going to get it and if you know that they’ve ripped something up, go clean it up and take precautions so they don’t look at your house as McDonald’s,” Ericsen added.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said that handling wild animals can be dangerous, especially when they are injured, and advise people to call them for assistance.

As for the surviving cub, ABR tells us it could be released back into the wild as soon as this fall or early winter.