Residents continued to report that a bear or bears was in the Secret City this week, and one was trapped at Oak Ridge National Laboratory early Friday morning.
George Ostrouchov took pictures of a black bear in his back yard on Orchard Circle at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“The bear first looked into our living room, putting its paws on the window,” Ostrouchov said in an e-mail. “Then he (we assume it was a young male) proceeded to check out our grill. The grill happened to be still on to clean itself after grilling.”
ORNL spokesman Bill Cabage said the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency trapped a male bear, possibly 150 pounds and about two to three years old, at the High Flux Isotope Reactor’s maintenance facility at about 5 a.m. Friday.
“It had been around the dumpster,” Cabage said.
He said the bear was taken to the TWRA North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area in Scott County.
The bear had been spotted crossing Melton Valley Road near the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment early Thursday. HFIR is surrounded by woods.
TWRA set up a barrel trap with bait inside and wired the dumpster shut, Cabage said. He said bears have been on U.S. Department of Energy property before, but he’s not aware of one ever being trapped on DOE land.
In an interview Thursday, TWRA Wildlife Officer David Crum said he can’t say how many bears might be in Oak Ridge, but he doesn’t think Anderson County has a lot of bears.
“This one is more than likely the same bear,” Crum said.
He said there have been no reports of aggressive bears in the area.
“The bears are more afraid of us than we are of them,” Crum said.
He said people should avoid eye contact with bears. If you spot one, don’t turn and run, Crum said.
“Just back away slowly,” he said.
Bears are generally skittish, and Crum recommended making a lot of noise to scare them off. However, don’t try to interrupt a bear when it’s eating, don’t back it into a corner, and don’t get between a mother bear and its cubs.
Crum also recommended that residents move food sources indoors for seven to 10 days, remove cat and dog food, take bird feeders in at night, and clean grills.
“The bears are just moving through,” he said. “They’re hungry, and they’re looking for food.”
Crum said TWRA receives calls about bears throughout East Tennessee and fields calls from Gatlinburg on at least a weekly basis.
TWRA wildlife officer Jason Lankford has said bear sightings are normal this time of year as young male bears try to establish new territory after older bears push them out of preserves like Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Sometimes the young bears get trapped in cities, he said.