BY KEN LITTLE
A persistent black bear apparently continues to find feeding options in Greeneville to its liking.
The animal has not moved on as wildlife experts predicted, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is attempting to trap the bear and move it to a less populated area, Greeneville police Chief Terry Cannon said today.
The most recent confirmed sighting was about 10:50 p.m. Wednesday in the area of the Laughlin HealthCare Center, 801 East McKee St.
Employees there called police because they were "worried about going out to their cars," a report by Officer Stacey Hobbs said.
Police received a call about 7:30 a.m. today from a resident of Whisperwood Drive in Oak Hills, who said part of his birdfeeder was gone, with apparent bear tracks nearby.
Authorities advise Greeneville residents to remove all food sources from their yards to help convince the freeloading bear to move on.
People are also advised to keep their distance from the animal, which weighs at least several hundred pounds.
"He's quick as a cat," said Cannon, based on officer observations of the bear in action.
"You don't want to be out where you think you can outrun him," Cannon said. "Some people want to get out and take a look at him. I would advise them to stay indoors."
The bear has been in the area for several weeks.
The same animal is believed to have been sighted in the area of the Greene Valley Developmental Center in Tusculum. More recent sightings were in the Harrison Heights and Oak Hills neighborhoods of Greeneville.
"They (wildlife officers) want to trap him. I don't know if you can get a tranquilizer dart to take something down that big," Cannon said.
No one has been hurt by the bear.
"He has not made any aggressive moves toward people, but he's not showing any fear, either," Cannon said.
Consistently warm weather in recent weeks has prompted many bears to come out of hibernation early and begin looking for food, TWRA biologists have said.
"We highly recommend removing the food sources from outside one's home, such as birdfeeders, outdoor pet food containers and garbage cans," TWRA Officer Kim Gibson said Wednesday.
Do not approach the bear, authorities caution.
If a bear is sighted, call the Greeneville Police Department at 639-7111 or the Tusculum Police Department at 638-6211.