SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – Two women were vacationing in Pigeon Forge this past weekend when they got an unexpected visit from a black bear.
Megan Ryman and Meagan Hudgins said they were both on their phones at the cabin when all of a sudden they spotted a bear coming up the stairs.
Hudgins said she believed the bear wasn’t full grown and estimated it weighed about 100 pounds. That bear continued to crawl towards both of them, causing Ryman to jump onto a rocking chair.
“At that point we kind of like stood up. It was a baby bear so it kind of got scared and kind of ran up for a second long enough for us to get back into the cabin,” Ryman said.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern part of the United States for black bears to live. Biologists estimate there are 1,900 bear within the park.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokesperson Matt Cameron said how to handle a black bear encounter can depend on the setting. In this situation, he said people need to make loud noises.
“We don’t want them to feel comfortable hanging around people’s homes,” Cameron said. “We want to encourage them to move along. You can simply shout at the bear, you can bang pots and pans together, you can use an airhorn or whistle or something to that effect.”
Black bears are most active during the spring and summer in the early mornings and nights. Cameron reiterated that black bears are wild animals and they are dangerous.
“They are large carnivores,” Cameron said. “They have very strong jaw. They have sharp teeth. They have strong muscles. They have claws and they will do harm to you. We want to discourage any sort of welcoming behavior towards black bears.”
The TWRA also advises people going on hikes to bring bear spray.