'Backyard bears:' Viewers in Ringgold, Murray County share recent photos, videos
UPDATE (August 2nd):
Viewer Susan McKee shared a close encounter of the bear kind from her home in Ducktown, Tennessee.
She says the bear was about 5 feet away from her front porch.
You can share your bear videos & photos here - but keep in mind before you raise your camera: you should only do so from a safe spot.
As we've been reporting all spring, area wildlife officials have been warning the public that they'll be seeing a lot of "backyard bears" this season.
Two viewers recently shared their "close encounters of the bear kind" with NewsChannel 9.
Bryan Brown in Rossville Georgia took several photos and videos of a black bear wandering in his backyard early Tuesday morning:
Brown had the good sense to keep his distance while taking a video of the bear from his deck. The bear at one point climbs over his fence. Other videos show it nosing around Brown's yard.
Brown wasn't the only viewer to have such a close up look at nature.
After we aired Brown's video in Tuesday night's 11 p.m. newscast, viewer Hal E. West of Fort Mountain in Murray County shared photos of a bear that got far closer - on his deck.
In this case, too, West was able to get photos of the bear from a position of safety - inside his home. But the bear certainly came a little close for comfort.
As we reported earlier this year, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Black Bear Coordinator Dan Gibbs says you should expect increased activity this time of year, as it is the season when they’ve emerged from their winter dens and are in search of food to replenish their energy and fatten back up.
Gibbs says in most cases bears are attracted to homes by food.... either garbage cans, dog food left outdoors or even bird feeders. Gibbs said simple things such as removing bird feeders, outdoor pet foods or keeping trash secured in a bear resistant container will keep the bear moving. He says once the bear has moved on to a new location, getting back to normal will probably be fine.
From May 7th: Cherokee County man shares video of bear in back yard
Unfortunately, some bears don't realize they are out of their preferred environment and in mortal danger until it's too late. That was the case for this bear in Catoosa County on May 7th, who was struck and killed by a motorist on Interstate 75 (warning: graphic photo).
Wildlife biologists say that Tennessee's bear population is expanding and estimate the population as high as 7,000. In the early 1980s, hunters only killed between 20 and 25 black bears per season. In recent years, harvest numbers have reached 500 plus bears on multiple occasions.
As Tennessee's bear population increases, TWRA is trying to educate people about living alongside bears. Gibbs said that people should be proactive in their efforts to ensure that bears remain wild, thus reducing bear-human interactions. Nationwide bear management experience has clearly shown that bears attracted to human food sources, or that are deliberately fed by humans, have a relatively short life. The survival rate of bears receiving food from people is likely a fraction of that of “wild” bears that do not have repeated contact with humans.
Read more: What do do if you encounter a bear
If you happen to spot a bear in your backyard, or anywhere else, and provided you are personally safe and secure, we want to see any videos or photos you have to share. We may feature them on the air. Upload your photos and videos here.