Following Gatlinburg attack TWRA officials warn against feeding bears

TWRA officials are warning people the results of feeding bears could harm others.
Officials are warning visitors and residents alike of the dangers of feeding bears.
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 6:42 PM EDT
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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is working to inform visitors and natives alike about the risks of feeding bears.

Nearly two days after a man was attacked inside a rental cabin, officials are saying this is the result of a bear accustomed to humans.

”This isn’t the first time this bear has been inside a home. As far as the first time it has been inside that one or not, we’re not sure yet. It’s obviously been inside a home before, for it to be willing to come in and do what it did in the middle of the night,” said Matt Cameron spokesperson for TWRA. “So it’s learned this behavior over a period of time and it’s likely due to the irresponsible actions of people who have stayed there before.”

TWRA officials said the man who was attacked did nothing wrong.

The bear managed to enter the rental cabin through what officials say are double doors.

Officials trapped and euthanized a bear in the area they suspected was the same bear that attacked the man.

As officials await the results to make sure that the euthanized bear was the bear that attacked the man, officials are sounding off on ways to prevent encouraging bears to get accustomed to humans.

”If there are bears in your area, please, please take down your bird feeders, put your trash away, and never feed or approach a bear because people are paying for your actions on down the road,” said Cameron.

As officials echoed calls to be careful, they outlined what happens when bears become too used to humans.

”Black bears are timid by nature. They have a natural fear of humans, and when they get habituated to human foods, they lose that natural fear especially when people intentionally feed them. They associate people with food, and they approach humans, and they get used to the empty threat and throwing something at them, and it’s not a bother so they learn pretty quick,” said Cameron.