Protecting bears: Are we doing enough?

Published: Jul. 16, 2019 at 10:27 PM EDT
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A video taken from Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park appears to show a mother bear lunge at a man who gets dangerously close.

The video, taken Saturday, July 13, has been shared thousands of times on social media.

The National Park Service told WVLT News it pursuing the individual because they don't know enough about him to identify him.

It is illegal to get closer than 50 yards to a bear in the national park. Breaking the law can result in fines up to $5,000 or up to six months in jail.

The law was created within the last five years, according to a spokesperson with the National Park Service.

It prompts the question, is East Tennessee doing enough to protect its bears?

"We want to protect our wildlife because it's something that defines Tennessee," Annie Brown, a Knoxville native, said.

Royalene Short suggested a ticketing system for cars as they go through the loop.

"[When something happens,] people that do see it and report it have an easier way to identify to park rangers," she said.

Short also suggested emergency phones along the road to call in to a ranger station since most cell phones don't get service.

Several WVLT viewers suggested closing the loop entirely to private cars and only allowing visitors to board park buses.

The national park service said they rely on visitors to act responsibly, because there's not enough staff to monitor all guests.

Others suggested more signage both on the roads and online.

TWRA recently started a program to use

to send direct messages to people's smart phones once they enter bear-zones within the park.

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