He expected to see deer, not a bear.
A Wayne County hunter, Peyton Risner, was surprised last week to find that he’d captured a bear wandering through the woods in a photo from his trail camera. Peyton notified TWRA that the black bear was photographed wandering around on his property off Middle Butler Road in Collinwood.
Though there isn’t a breeding population of bears in Middle Tennessee yet, the animals are in the fringe counties and it is not uncommon to see young bears moving through the area looking to set up their own home range, according to TWRA.
Typically, young males will travel longer distances away from established bear populations before circling back and settling on the outskirts of the existing bear population. Residents should not approach a bear if they see one. The TWRA asks them to report sightings using the TWRA’s “I saw a bear” tool online and to let their neighbors know what they’ve seen.
There are a few things that can be done to avoid attracting bears or other wildlife close to home as well.
Common attractants include bird feeders, trash, bird baths and pet food bowls with leftover food in them.
These things can unintentionally lure bears and other unwanted wildlife closer to people, the TWRA says. Residents are urged to visit bearwise.org to learn more information about the animals.
There are also a few guidelines that can help decrease negative interactions with bears and help the animals stay wild:
•Never feed or intentionally approach bears; feeding bears or allowing them to find anything that smells or tastes like food teaches bears to approach homes and people as they’re looking for more. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so don’t risk your safety and theirs!
•Secure food, garbage and recycling: food and food odors attract bears, so don’t reward them with easily available food, liquids or garbage.
•Remove bird feeders when bears are active; birdseed and grains have lots of calories, so they’re very attractive to bears. Removing feeders is the best way to avoid creating conflicts with bears.
•Never leave pet food outdoors: feed pets indoors when possible. If you must feed pets outside, feed in single portions and remove food and bowls after feeding. Store pet food where bears can’t see or smell it.
•Clean and store grills: clean grills after each use and make sure that all grease, fat and food particles are removed. Store clean grills and smokers in a secure area that keeps bears out.