KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) Three bears have been hit by cars in the past 24 hours in East Tennessee, and TWRA says it's likely we'll be crossing paths more often.
A bear was seen roaming around Knoxville Thursday in the Papermill Drive area. TWRA says that's likely the bear that was then hit and killed by a vehicle early Thursday morning on I-640. Another bear was hit in Townsend Thursday afternoon, but was able to make it back to the woods unharmed.
A third bear was hit and killed by a car Friday afternoon in Cosby on Highway 321.
TWRA officer Scott Reasor said it's a coincidence that all three were hit in such a small window of time, but it's not a coincidence that we are seeing more bears in areas we haven't seen them before.
"They're kind of branching out and moving out as their population is growing and expanding. So they're going to expand their territory," Reasor said.
Reasor also said that because the bear population in East Tennessee is doing so well, expect to see bears more often as they spread out.
"This means there's more bears crossing roads. So we're going to have a lot of bears crossing roads," he explained.
As for the bear seen in Knoxville, Reasor said they had officers out looking for the bear to return it to its natural environment, but they couldn't find it before it was hit and killed on the interstate.
TWRA continues to urge people to not leave any food outside, especially with bears on the move right now. Several have been seen recently near homes and neighborhoods, and TWRA says bears will continue to move through if they don't smell food.