A large black bear has been spotted rummaging for food in a neighborhood near Johnson City’s Woodland Elementary School. Doug and Delores Hammitt, 921 N. North St., told Press Staff Writer Gary B. Gray on Thursday that a 400-pound bear had smashed the window out of their SUV and dragged a steel garbage can full of birdseed through their hedges.
This story is not surprising. The black bear population here in Northeast Tennessee has reached a 100-year high, which means more bears are showing up on backyard patios and even in busy commercial districts.
The number of bear sightings is likely to increase in our area, which is why the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency urges homeowners to take steps to discourage these and other wild critters from paying them a visit this spring.
The first thing to remember is never to feed bears or any other wild animal. Doing so causes them to lose their instinctive fear of humans, turning them into nuisance animals that are unpredictable and dangerous when they encounter people.
Bears, as well as raccoons, have been known to damage bird feeders and garbage cans in pursuit of a meal.
Residents should make sure they dispose of their garbage in containers that are sealed tightly. Garbage left outdoors in plastic bags only serves as a dinner invitation to hungry critters.
Never leave pet food in a place where roaming wildlife can get at it. Keep dog and cat food in sealed containers, and don’t leave pet food unattended outdoors.
For more information on dealing with bears, visit the TWRA Region IV website at www.twraregion4.org or call the TWRA Region IV office at 587-7037.