Bear sightings in residential Bradley County
CLEVELAND, TN. (WRCB) - People living in parts of Bradley County are on the lookout for black bears. TWRA officers have gotten dozens of reported black bear sightings and are taking steps to keep everyone safe.
TWRA officers say it's common for black bears to travel around the area this time of year looking for food, but say now they're getting a little too close for comfort in some southern Bradley County neighborhoods.
"It came under the fence and across this guys yard here," Justin Humbard says.
Humbard had just left Sunday morning service at Union Missionary Baptist Church when a bear caught some of the congregation's attention.
"Saw something out of our peripheral vision and as we looked closer, we said, that's a black bear. Definitely not your average deer or rabbit crossing the road," Humbard says.
The black bear made its way through neighbors' yards in the Valley View area of Bradley County.
"From a distance it looked small, but as we got closer, it was pretty large," Humbard says.
"We started getting complaints probably about a week ago," TWRA Officer Ben Davis says.
Officer Davis has been trying to catch the 120 pound black bear, even putting out a trap. But Sunday night, a neighborhood dog ended the search.
"A dog had scared it up into a tree, which is good for us because then we were able to get a dart in the bear," Officer Davis says.
But, he may have family still in the area.
"Just so happens this year, they're in a pretty heavily populated area of Bradley County," Officer Davis says.
That has some residents on edge.
"You still worry. It's a concern. Your kids are out there playing. They could get eat up by a bear. You never know," Kimberly Baynham and Angie Cochran tell Channel 3.
Officer Davis says not to be scared, just be aware that bears could be around.
"Make some noise before you come out your doors. Just be mindful. Don't put them in a position where they're going to feel trapped," Officer Davis says.
If you suspect one in your neighborhood, keeping food inside is the best way to keep them away.
"Bears are notoriously lazy. They're just looking for an easy meal, things like bird feeders, garbage, pet food," Officer Davis says.
The TWRA released the black bear deep into the woods. Officer Davis thinks it's the same one folks in the Benwood area spotted a few days ago.
If you spot a bear, don't approach it. Report it to the TWRA at 1-800-262-6704.