Pollen isn't the only thing that comes out in the spring. So do black bears. If you're not careful, they could end up visiting your back yard. Several sightings have been reported in our viewing area in the past five years. 

Even though the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) hasn't received reports of black bears this year, wildlife specialist Mime Barnes says it could happen soon.

"It is common in the spring time for young males to start moving out, looking for their own territories. Leaving their mothers," explains Barnes.

As adult black bears and their cubs come out of hibernation they look for essentials to survive.

"Shelter, water, food, and a place to raise young. Those are the components that they're looking for," adds Barnes. "They don't know where those are yet, so they're kind of wandering aimlessly."

The bears might find an easy meal in your back yard. If you don't want an unwanted dinner guest, Barnes recommends making sure the outside of your house is neat and tidy. Empty bird feeders and bird baths, and be careful with your trash.

"Don't put it out until the morning of trash day," suggests Barnes. She says black bears have a sense of smell that's several times stronger than a bloodhound. "If you have a grill outside, think of that grease and the smell and how attractive that would be for any wild animal," adds Barnes.

Store your grill in a shed or garage when you're not using it. Trash cans are available that have screw-on lids, and others are so durable they're advertised as "bear proof".

Read More | Bear Safety

It's also important to clean up around your camp site when spending time in the woods. Store food as far away from your camp site as possible, but not in your car.

"There's directions on line on how to hang your food from trees," says Barnes. "A lot of camp sites provide storage lockers, food lockers."

Barnes says most black bears don't want to approach you.

"It's also good to make noise when you're hiking. Let the bears know you're coming. A dangerous situation is when a bear is surprised," adds Barnes.

If you see a bear, don't feed it. It'll only come back for more.

Also, Barnes says if you see a bear don't approach it or run away. Instead, back away slowly and the give the bear space. Hold something above your head, such as a backpack or some other object, to make yourself look as large as you can. Once you're safe, call TWRA to report the sighting.

Read More | TWRA