‘Bears are looking for one thing, and that’s food’ | Trash issues cause bear cub death, TWRA says

Despite recurring issues, TWRA can’t require bear-proof dumpsters.
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 7:46 PM EDT
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SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - One bear cub was hurt and another was injured after they were hit by a car in Wears Valley.

Previous Coverage: Appalachian Bear Rescue works to rescue 6-month-old cub hit by car

According to TWRA, a mother bear and three cubs had been getting into trash at two rental cabins. The mother was dragging trash into a nearby tree line. The cubs were eating human food when they were hit.

Despite these incidents, TWRA can’t enforce property owners to bear-proof their dumpsters.

“Unfortunately, those regulations don’t exist, so there’s nothing for Tennessee Wildlife or for local entities to enforce those,” said black bear support biologist for TWRA, Janelle Musser.

The owner of Breezy Bear Cabin in Wears Valley and guests see bears occasionally. They’ve bear-proofed the cabin, so guests can enjoy the mountains and bear sightings safely.

“We have a bear-proof trash container that we have our guests keep the trash in. We have postings all over our walls inside that bears are real. They’re not something to play with,” owner Dan Chapman said.

Regardless of regulations, Chapman said he’ll do his best to make sure guests are bear aware and safe. “Bears are looking for one thing and that’s food. That’s all they want is food,” he said. “So if it’s available, they’ll get it. If it’s not really easy, they’ll move on and find somewhere else.

There are resources to help you bear-proof your home.