Information from WYSH Radio/Oak Ridge Today
A black bear was spotted wandering through Clinton on Friday.
The city sent out a Code Red Alert to part of the city on Friday morning indicating that the bear had been spotted in the vicinity of JD Yarnell Industrial Parkway and the 1200 block of Seivers Boulevard, heading in the general direction of the Clinton Home Center.
Authorities say that if you see the bear, you should give it a wide berth and notify the Clinton Police Department at (865) 457-3112.
It’s not unusual to occasionally see black bears in East Tennessee in the summer, including in Oak Ridge, Anderson County, Clinton, and the Great Smoky Mountains. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has previously said that Oak Ridge and Knoxville are surrounded by very good bear habitats—including the largest black bear preserve in the world—and it’s not unusual to see up to a half-dozen bears come through the Oak Ridge area each year and at least that many in the Knoxville area.
The surrounding bear habitat includes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the south, which is the largest black bear preserve in the world; the Cherokee National Forest to the east, a good, large bear habitat; and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area to the north.
In 2013, the TWRA said there are a few bears that live year-round in the northwest part of Anderson County around New River and Devonia, and sometimes those bears find their way down the mountain.
At the time, TWRA Sergeant Roy Smith of Morristown said the bears seen in populated areas are often young male bears between 1.5 to 2 years old that have been weaned from their mothers and weigh about 150 pounds. There is a period during the summer when there is not a lot of natural food available, and the juvenile male bears are pushed out of good habitats by adult males. The yearlings set out to find their own territory and are often seen in local cities in July and August.
“Bears don’t want to be in these areas just as we don’t want them here,” Smith said.
In the 10 years he had been working here, Smith said in 2013, he wasn’t aware of any human-bear interactions that became dangerous. Bears are naturally timid and skittish creatures and generally afraid of people.
Still, wildlife officials recommend that people stay away from the bears.
“Give them a wide berth,” TWRA Wildlife Officer Jason Lankford said then.
To encourage the bears to continue moving, the TWRA recommends residents put away their trash and try to eliminate other outdoor food sources. Lankford said bears love to eat cat and dog food, bird seed, and whatever they can find in grease traps.
The TWRA said it generally lets the bears move out on their own as long as they keep moving.
“Generally speaking, if those bears are left alone, those bears will move through,” Smith said.
The TWRA occasionally moves the animals if they find a consistent food source and aren’t moving. In that case, they can become habituated to people.
“If they‘re causing problems or they’re staying in the area, not moving, we generally remove them,” Smith said.
The TWRA said people who see bears can call the agency because wildlife workers want to know if the bears, which can cover 20-30 miles per day, are continuing to move.
WYSH Radio in Clinton is an Oak Ridge Today news partner.
See our previous stories about black bears in the area here.
Note: The photo above is not of the bear spotted in Clinton on Friday. It is an archived file photo of a bear at Anderson County High School in Clinton in October 2016.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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