GATLINBURG, Tenn – The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency said that this year had the most calls for bear concerns than any previous, with Sevier County having the greatest problems.
Officials predict that as bear and human populations expand, so will the number of problems.
Bears on the lookout for food, and humans leaving food sources where bears might obtain it, are a concern not only in Gatlinburg, but throughout the state.
“We like to use the word ‘conflict’ when we talk about this bear activity because it’s really not a nuisance, it’s a behavior that’s usually spearheaded by a human action,” said Janelle Musser, TWRA.
According to Bill Stiver of the National Park Service, transferring problem bears may not be the solution because two-thirds of those bears died within months of being relocated.
He stated that the issue is that individuals do not lock trash cans or remove bird feeders. He stated that when dealing with problem bears, there are three options.
“We can leave it there, and try to work with the landowner to clean it up, we can kill it, or we can move it. Certainly, we have moved bears before,” said Stiver.
Stiver also discovered a bear in the center of Pigeon Forge. The bear’s home range, according to him, is the area around the community center and high school. He predicted that there would be more bears as the population grew.
“What we see a lot of times in Gatlinburg is it’s not successful to pick up a bear and move it because there’s just so many that can take its place. That garbage is just a real easy food source, especially this time of year when bears are eating about 20-thousand calories a day,” said Musser
TWRA is hoping that new trash containers in Gatlinburg, as well as this new trash strap, would encourage bears to move on because they can’t get into the trash.
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