Bear spotted near Collegedale playground - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Bear spotted near Collegedale playground

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COLLEGEDALE, TN (WRCB) -

At a place with slides and swings, you wouldn't expect to see a 150 pound black bear.   

However, that's exactly what happened Wednesday afternoon at the Imagination Station playground.

The bear was sighted in a field wandering around just yards away from young children at the playground.

“Officers came out as soon as they got word of it and started telling parents to secure their children off the playground there's a bear sighting in the area,” Tonya Sadler, Collegedale Police Department said.

CPD said officers worked to secure the area and kept people away for the night.   

“Trying to push the bear back, just like presence, if they see people pushing towards it we were hoping that it would move on its own,” Sadler said.

Southern Adventist University sent out this warning to students urging them to use caution in the area.

Sightings happen this time of year, TWRA said young male bears are known to start dispersing out of the woods to look for new territory.

“There’s a lot of wooded areas, so I’m not really surprised. We get quite a few deer, wild turkey, rather large turtle on our way to the park,” Cary Powell said.

The sighting may scare away some families, but not Powell and his son.

“It’s a busy area the times when people are out here I don't think the bear is going to be out here bothering anybody,” Powell said.

However, officials say they could bother visitors and can be very dangerous if approached.

“Definitely give it its distance you don't know what's going on if it's going to get frightened it might charge you, you're not sure if there's another bear in close proximity,” Sadler said.

The Imagination Station playground is now back open. Officials say if you see the bear, don't approach it and call police.

TWRA provided tips to keep bears away:

Attractants such as bird feeders, trash and pet food bowls with leftover food can lure bears and other unwanted wildlife. Following a few guidelines can decrease negative interactions and help bears stay wild. Bears accustomed to foods provided by humans are easily conditioned and are far more likely to lose their lives because of the threat.

Help keep bears and humans safe by:

  • Look large and make a lot of noise.
  • Never Run
  • Do not purposefully feed bears.
  • Store garbage in bear proof containers or in a manner that is inaccessible to bears.
  • Do not purposefully feed bears.
  • Store garbage in bear-proof containers or in a manner that is inaccessible to bears.
  • Do not feed birds between April and January when bears are most active.
  • Remove uneaten pet food from outside areas or feed pets indoors.
  • Do not add greasy foods to your compost piles or compost in bear proof containers.
  • Keep cooking grills clean and stored indoors when not in us.
  • Report problem bears or any odd behavior to your regional TWRA office.
  • Visit Bebearaware.org, a national site dedicated to reducing human-bear conflicts.
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