SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – Reports of bear sightings are happening all over East Tennessee recently. A bear and her three cubs were spotted this week roaming all through downtown Sevierville.
WATE 6 On Your Side viewers sent pictures of the bear family making their way through town, and police even blocked traffic to make sure the bears got through safely.
“When I came in through the parking lot, they were over here, “ said Michelle Arwood. “They walked down the driveway and onto the sidewalk.”
Arwood was returning to work at Century 21 when the bears caught her eye. She thought it was a dog at first, but when the three cubs stepped into view she realized that was not the case.
“I was so excited. I was sitting in my car and called the front desk to let them know that we had bears in the parking lot,” she said.
Arwood stayed in her car snapping several pictures as the bears wandered by.
“I was nervous. I would have thought that they would be aggressive but it was almost like they were absolutely used to people,” she said.
The bears caught a lot of attention. Many people called police.
“They were being pretty active. They were running from street to street, through backyards,” said Bob Stahlke with the Sevierville Police Department.
After they got through the Century 21 parking lot, police were able to block traffic on busy Main Street and let the bears cross the street where they climbed a tree just behind another business.
“It’s the last thing you would expect at 3:00 in the afternoon, in October, downtown Sevierville,” said Arwood.
It took about six officers to corral the bears around town, and TWRA arrived to help get them back into the woods. It is not the first time police have had reports of bears recently, and even though these bears seemed harmless police are warning people to be a little extra cautious.
“Really just try to stay away, and since there have been so many sightings lately we really want people to be more aware of where their pets are, where their children are,” said Stahlke.
It gave everyone a story to tell though and thankfully had a happy ending for the bears and everyone around.
“I’m just glad they didn’t get hurt because they were so cute!” said Arwood.
Wildlife officials say the mother bear was wearing a tracking collar leading them to believe they came out of the national park. They say bears are being seen in more populated areas because their food supply in the wild is lower than usual this year.