Drought Sends Bears Looking For Food in Homes

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - With the lack of rain, more East Tennessee bears are livin' it up in your neighborhoods.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says it's answered more calls about bear nuisances this year than last.

Most of those bears come to your home looking for food, but Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy's here to tell us about one bear who most likely visited a home to find relief after his meal.

TWRA officials say you're seeing more bears in your neighborhoods because there's more of them. The bear population's increasing, and the lack of food this time of year always brings them down from the mountains.

However, one bear's been leaving some unwelcome gifts.
It's a picture perfect backyard, except for the smelly surprise on Mac McKellar's patio.

"There was a big pile of--they call it scat---but it looked like poop," McKellar said.

An unwelcome gift from an unwelcome guest three nights in a row.

"We couldn't figure out how it got there, whether it was human or animal or what," McKellar said.

So McKellar videotaped the patio Tuesday night with his security camera and got what he never expected.

"When I first saw it I thought it was a raccoon," McKellar said.

Not a raccoon, but a bear cub making an early morning bathroom trip.

"My wife and I just looked at each other and we said, 'Oh my gosh!" McKellar said.

A second-story bathroom break the bear had to work to get.

"There's four by fours supporting the the device. So the bear evidently crawled up, came over the banister here," McKellar said.

"It's not uncommon to see them outside the mountains and in the urban areas," TWRA Agent David Brandenburg said.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says now's prime time for bears visits.

"June is historically a time period of low food availability for bears," Brandenburg said.

Just last month, TWRA nabbed a bear in downtown Knoxville's Old City.
Bears like this nearly 200 pounder have prompted more than 100 calls to TWRA just in June.

"Our bear population is increasing," Brandenburg said.

Plus the spring freeze could've hurt bears berries of choice.

"Right now the bears are waiting on the blackberries and blueberries to come in," Brandenburg said.

But food's not what brought McKellar's furry visitor. So why did the bear scale this patio just to go to the bathroom? Well, McKellar has an idea.

"At night this big black cover on the barbecue grill probably resembles the mother bear to the little cub," McKellar said.

A new neighbor he could live without. TWRA says if you see a bear in your neighborhood, never feed them. They suggest making your trash unavailable to bears, even if that means bringing it inside. Also get rid of your bird feeder if you live near the mountains, and don't feed your pets outside.

If you have any problems you can call the regional office at 1-800-332-0900.


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