‘This bear seemed a bit different’ — Gatlinburg man recounts close encounter with large bear

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — A man who came dangerously close to a large black bear recounts the experience he says he’ll never forget.

Anthony Fulton says he’s had many encounters with bears, but this one was different. He says he and his brother were working on a job site in Gatlinburg when they were suddenly 50 feet from a large black bear.

“He was surprised and I was surprised and he started grunting at me and did a fox charge and he stopped and I was like oh I’ve seen this happen before and I’ve had many encounters with bears and this encounter was a little different because he was not afraid of me at all.” Fulton said.

The TWRA says this kind of behavior is normal if a bear feels threatened.

“When they feel threatened, they will do what’s called bluff charge. They will run at you and stop a few feet short of you and what they’re trying to tell you is back away, give me some space.” said Matt Cameron, TWRA spokesperson.

It was the closest to a bear encounter he’s ever had. After a short standoff, his brother was able to activate the alarm in their truck which caused the bear to run away, an action TWRA officials say is a good way to scare a bear that is too close.

“Loud noises tend to frighten bears so if you have a horn in your vehicle will a lot of times frighten them. Clapping your hands, shouting at them, banging two sticks together, anything you can do to make a lot of noises, normally intimidates the bear and they will usually leave and go in another direction.” Cameron said.

If you come in contact with a bear, here are more things to know from the TWRA:

  • While black bears are usually tolerant of humans, they should always be treated as wild animals, whether in residential or backcountry areas.
  • Black bears are rarely aggressive towards people and typically go out of their way to avoid contact, however as human development continues and bear numbers increase, occasional interactions will be unavoidable.
  • Black bears are extremely powerful animals whose behaviors can be unpredictable.
  • Black bears are very curious animals and this should not be confused with aggression.
  • Startled bears will often confront intruders by turning sideways to appear larger, make woofing and teeth clacking sounds, salivate, lay their ears back and slap the ground with their paws. These are warnings for you to leave the area.
  • Bears will often stand on their hind legs to get a better view or a better sense of hearing and smell.

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