TWRA Responds to Bear in Tree

Maryville, Blount County (WVLT) - A close encounter with a black bear is raising questions.

It's all part of a case, Blount County Bureau Chief Stephen McLamb saw unravel in front of his eyes.

There was a happy ending for the bear that got stuck in a tree.

Wildlife officials believe the animal traveled for miles looking for food as part of preparations for hibernation.

But evidently the bear took a wrong turn and ended up in one woman's backyard.

It started out as a regular day for Frances Vinsant until she heard her black lab Sadie who just wouldn't stop barking in the backyard so she went to see what was going on. "Picked up a piece of wood in her mouth and was sitting up against the fence growling, looking toward the back."

That's when she came face to face with a bear in her backyard pine tree. "Holy cow, there's a bear. I mean, that's the clean version of what I thought."

She says she called 911. Meanwhile, the bear seemed to draw a lot of attention from neighbors.

"You really don't think, you know, you just look at it, yeah," says neighbor Edie Jones.

The bear seemed to just enjoy his day not knowing rescue personnel were on the way.
Wildlife officials took two shots at the bear who then moved to the top of the tree where he became lodged.

A couple of hard pushes got the bear on his way down.

Some residents say this wasn't the only time they've seen a bear in their neighborhood.

"I think it was about 2000 when the bear was at Maryville College deciding to read the books. He also decided to come down in the woods, went through that yard, and through the other one," says neighbor Jane Jensen.

But the bear was not hurt and it was an eventful day for this quiet neighborhood.

"I just wish my grandchildren were here," Jensen says.

The best news, we learned from the TWRA, they released the bear at a bear reserve in Monroe County about around 3:00 p.m.

The bear was awake when they got there.

It's funny, officers say after leaving the cage, the bear turned around, took one look at them and then took off for the woods!

Gotta get some food and then hibernate for the winter, I guess!