WATCH: Bears digging through trash, growing Gatlinburg problem

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Pete and Joy Jucker are driving down Ski Mountain Road on their way to get dinner Monday night. What they instead saw on the side of the road came as a shock.

Just minutes before, WVLT's Robert Grant also came across the same scene -- a black bear rummaging through trash in a nearby driveway.

Our crews on the scene caught it on camera and called wildlife officials. But Pete and Joy showed up first.


Pete Jucker said, "Feeding the bears is killing the bears."

The couple pulled in the driveway to scare away the black bear and pick up the trash. The Gatlinburg natives have both lived in the area dozens of years. They understand locking up trash could save a bear's life.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says a 'fed bear is a dead bear'.

The particular bear on Ski Mountain Road had green tags on its ears, which means it's already been marked as a nuisance. TWRA said after a few times being marked, it could get euthanized.

"The bear is habituated to human food and later he will probably be euthanized," Joy Jucker said.

Gatlinburg city employees said they've come across the animals getting in to the trash this year more than ever before. They said many rental properties are to blame for not properly locking up the trash. They rescued a bear getting in the trash on the same road just days before.

"Put the trash in it, then make sure the lock is activated so the bear can't open the door," Joy said.

TWRA said there are no laws statewide prohibiting people from feeding bears, whether intentional or unintentional.