Hungry Bear Looking For Food In Greeneville

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - There's a black bear in Greeneville making himself at home, helping himself to birdseed and leftovers in the trash. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says nearly 98 percent of problems with bears all revolve around food.

The great outdoors -- it's something Karen Kelly welcomes into her backyard, "We feed the deer, the raccoon come in, we've got turkeys," she explained.

But last week, she had an uninvited dinner guest: a black bear. "He was trying to get the bird feeder to get the bird seed and he tore that up," she said.

So far the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says there has only been one bear complaint in Greene County. Officer Marvin Reeves says 90 percent of the time, problems like this are young male bears without a home. "They really don't want to be around people but if there's a food source close by, they will try to take advantage of that," he said.

Now that it's spring, it's perfectly normal for bears to start roaming for something to eat and cities make a great buffet because of the numerous garbage cans and bird feeders. "They have a very strong sense of smell so obviously smells from dumpsters attract them to a particular spot," added Officer Reeves.

Reeves thinks that same bear outgrew his appetite and headed to Stan's Barbeque for takeout. News 5 checked with owner Stan Fortner and he told us the bear visited Tuesday night. "Evidently he knocked over the barrel we throw excess fat and bones in, he kind of cleaned that out," he said.

But to get rid of the problem, you'll need to pick up your trash, birdseed, and pet food. The TWRA says the best way to eliminate wild animals from your neighborhood is to eliminate the food source.

That's exactly what Kelly is now doing, even though the bear hasn't been back for dinner since Friday. "You feel so bad because all he wanted was food, you know he was hungry," said Kelly.

A trap has been set in a nearby neighborhood by the TWRA to catch this bear. News 5 also checked with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; they tell us while it's been an early spring, they have had no complaints about bears so far this year.

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