The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) wants residents to be safe as black bears slowly expand their territory into the Upper Cumberland.
Wildlife Information Specialist Mime Barnes said bear populations have grown across the state.
“This is the most common time of year to see bears,” Barnes said. “Young males especially are out on their own for the first time [after] they’ve left their mothers. They’re looking for new areas, they’re looking for easy food, they’re looking for a new home in a sense, and they don’t always realize they’re heading towards town or in someone’s yard.”
Barnes said area residents can take precautions to prevent bears from getting too close for comfort.
“Make sure greasy grills and trash are stored in an area like a garage or a shed, and put trash out the morning of trash day,” Barnes said. “We also ask that no one ever follow a black bear. Give it room to move on and just let it be. Don’t follow it for photographs, that can create a dangerous encounter.”
Barnes said citizens who encounter a bear should keep calm and advises people to not run away.
“You want to look large and make a lot of noise and the bear will get moving on its own, and give it space to move away from you,” Barnes said. “Keep yourself safe, get to a safe location. But should you come face-to-face with a bear is to look as large as you can, make a lot of noise, and get it moving away.”
A black bear was spotted near Monterey Wednesday morning near I-40 and Bee Rock Road. Another bear was spotted within Crossville city limits late last month while another roamed through Cookeville last summer.
Barnes said residents wanting to learn more about how to handle bear encounters can visit BearWise.org for more information.