A Sequatchie County woman says a black bear ran out of the woods and collided with her car as she was driving home a couple of nights ago.

Niyah Gutierrez was traveling on Highway 28 to her home in Cartwright on Monday night after picking up her children from their babysitter. This was when the bear hit her SUV.

READ MORE | Bear safety

"I was shocked. I didn't even know bears were around here," Gutierrez exclaimed.

Unfortunately, she found out the hard way.

"I saw the bear coming, but there was really nothing I could do. I just hit the bear, and I hit its head it slammed into the side of the truck and, well, you can see what happened," says Gutierrez.

The collision broke off the grill and damaged the front bumper. There's fur stuck in a wheel between the tire and the rim. Also, the entire front passenger door is dented and won't open.

Gutirrez's autistic daughter was shaken up the most.

"She jumped and screamed and starting crying because she was confused and didn't know what was going on," Gutierrez added.

After settling down, they went back to check on the bear, but it was gone. Days later, the grill and pieces of the bumper remain on the side of the road.

Wildlife experts say it's not unusual for black bears to be out in large numbers this time of the year. There have been several sightings in the Channel 3 viewing area in the past two months, including Bradley County, and in Georgia in Varnell, Ringgold and Chattooga Counties. A black bear was even seen in downtown Atlanta.

"All of [the] young bears are pushed out of their mother's range about this time of the year, especially young males that are no longer under mom's protection," Adam Hammond, with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said.

As they come out of hibernation from spring into early summer, the bears are thirsty. They follow their noses, sniffing out food where ever they can find it, even if it's in your backyard.

Hammond says to keep the following things indoors or emptied as much as possible.

"Pet foods, bird feeders in residential areas. But it could also be garbage. It could be household garbage. It could be just about anything. A lot of things are food to a bear," Hammond added.

Gutierrez says she'll follow the advice, and she'll be on the lookout for any more bears.

"I'm going to be more cautious with my children because they like to play on the mountainside because I live right below the mountains," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez reported the accident to the Sequatchie County Sheriff's Department who in turn called the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

So far, no injured bear has been found in the Cartwright area. Gutierrez doesn't have collision insurance and says she can't afford the repairs, so she'll be shopping for another used car soon.