KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – U.S. Forest Service officials said Thursday that a bear had been euthanized after a campground in Cherokee National Forest was forced to close temporarily, marking the fourth bear to be euthanized in East Tennessee this month.
A fifth bear died of heat stroke on June 23, after becoming trapped inside a car parked at a Sevierville rental cabin, with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency calling it a good example of “how garbage kills bears.”
Carden’s Bluff Campground in the Cherokee National Forest is reopened this weekend after a bear exhibited aggressive behavior and forced it to close for 11 days. A Forest Service spokesperson said the bear had been captured and was euthanized after rangers found evidence it was entering the campground and taking food and garbage.
TWRA also captured and euthanized a bear on June 6 after it entered a home in the Wears Valley community of Sevier County.
“The bear entered a home,” said Dan Gibbs, black bear program leader for TWRA. “Our conflict matrix requires that bears we capture exhibiting this behavior be euthanized.”
Video shared on social media shows the large bear pawing at a door frame and slamming into the glass. The area is near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park boundary.
Another bear was euthanized after it tore into a tent at the Elkmont Campground in the Smokies and left minor scratches on a woman and three-year-old child. The June 12 incident led authorities to caution visitors against camping in tents and other soft-sided shelters at the campground for a short time.
Less than a week later, the TWRA said another bear had been euthanized after a 90-year-old woman was scratched while sitting on the porch of her Abbott Road home in Sevierville when a female bear with three yearlings approached her.
Officers are now monitoring the behavior of the yearlings.
The Forest Service is also warning visitors to be on the lookout for black bears and be BearWise. If bears are unable to get human food or garbage, the likelihood of human-bear conflicts is greatly reduced.
Though bears are naturally afraid of humans, bears habituated to human food can begin to associate human scents with the reward of food. Due to this, bears can become a threat to humans, property, and themselves, the Forest Service said in a post on social media.
When camping, always:
- Throw away all trash in an approved receptacle. Don’t leave anything behind and do not burn food scraps or other trash in fire rings.
- Stay alert, be aware of your surroundings, and stay together.
- Make noise so that bears can avoid you.
- Keep food and other attractants in a locked vehicle, bear-resistant container or hung from a tree at least 12 feet off the ground and 6 feet away from the truck or limbs.
- Never store food, garbage, or any other attractants in a tent.