The video shot on Sept. 3 in downtown Gatlinburg shows people getting a little too close for comfort to a black bear.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency says there are proper steps you should take if you find yourself in this situation.
While spotting a bear in Downtown Gatlinburg is not uncommon, TWRA spokesperson Matt Cameron said some of the people in the video were dangerously close.
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“When they started approaching it and chasing it with the camera and all that, it really put them in a dangerous situation,” Cameron said.
He said that this is the time of year when you’ll see more bears as they look for excess food and prepare for hibernation season.
“Other than it being in the middle of town, it acted normal to me. Once again, it was looking around and looking for a place to where it could just get away from all these people and it didn’t feel comfortable where it was at and a lot of times when you surround an animal like that and corner it, it can attack.“
Dean Schapiro is from Indiana but was visiting Gatlinburg with family and shot the video.
“I was up there for my son’s birthday. I took him up there and the bear came running out onto the boardwalk and I’m glad that I shot that video,” Schapiro said in a phone interview.
You can hear him call out the one woman who jumped in front of the bear as it tried to escape.
“She gonna run right in his path,” he said in the video.
“At first, it was out of amazement but like I said, I’m glad it was shot,” Schapiro said. “It shows that they’re being forced to come into the human population.”
Schapiro said he goes to downtown Gatlinburg around four times a year and seeing a bear isn’t uncommon for him.
“I’ve seen them behind the hotels and in the parking garages,” he said.
“Just back away and give it a clear escape route,” Cameron said when asked what to do if you see a bear. “They saw that bear and I think anyone would have been intrigued by it. It showed up in an unusual spot. It looked like the people were from somewhere else and maybe it was the first bear they’d ever seen. So, people kind of lose common sense when it comes to that. We would just encourage people to once again just back away from it to not approach it and give it a clear escape route.”
Cameron added that that particular bear didn’t look like it had any tags or markings that could identify it. So hopefully this interaction scared it enough to keep it from making its way downtown again.
TWRA explained that if a bear is a danger to the community, they will try to relocate it but a lot of time, relocation doesn’t work and the bear will have to be euthanized.
Cameron said do your part and stay away from the bears if you see one. For more information about East Tennessee’s bear population, you can visit BearWise here.