WARNING: The following content shows a graphic scene of a Tennessee black bear hunting a wild hog. Some may find this disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Bear versus hog. It’s not something seen every day, but it leaves a big impression once viewed.
The power of a wild black bear was witnessed Tuesday near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as it took down a wild hog for a meal right off of the highway where passers-by saw and heard the commotion.
A man visiting the Smokies with his friend happened upon the scene just off of Highway 321 near the Pittman Center and knew they were seeing something worth stopping both lanes of traffic: A bear on the hunt with its prey.
“It was really a right place right time,” Philip Talbot said. “We spent the day in Cades Cove looking for wildlife. We were on our way back to our cabin in Gatlinburg and were the first ones to drive up on it.”
The black bear was in the process of killing its prey and dragging it up the embankment near the road. The hog wasn’t going down so easy, but both animals appeared tired.
Talbot and others who witnessed it remained in their vehicles.
“We originally thought it was a bear and cub until we got right up on them,” Talbot said. “That’s when the bear attacked and we started videoing. Both lanes were stopped. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing! I’m an avid hunter and it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen!”
Black bears in the Smokies are common and according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, a healthy male Tennessee black bear can be between 4-7 feet long and weigh as much as 500 pounds.
It’s now spring in the Smokies, which means bears are coming out of their wintering dens seeking food.
TWRA spokesman Matt Cameron shared these reminders for visitors to East Tennessee regarding black bears:
While black bears are omnivorous, about 90% of their diet consists of vegetation and they consume very little meat. However, having recently emerged from their winter dens, they are looking for food amongst many sources and will seize the opportunity to consume young, sick or injured animals. It’s from now until the major spring green up that bears will be covering large territories in search of available food.
We want to remind residents and visitors to be vigilant and not allow bears to have access to human foods including garbage containers, pet foods, birdfeeders, compost piles, or by offering them handouts. Be BearWise!MATT CAMERON, SPOKESMAN, TENNESSEE WILDLIFE RESOURCES AGENCY
Here are some other reminders from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency about bears:
- 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.
- Never feed or approach bears.
The Southeast region is home to some 72,000 black bears, according to BearWise. For more information about black bears, you can also visit the “BearWise” program page.
The full video can be viewed here.