A wild animal is moving into Middle Tennessee, and there are so many that a hunting season has been established to control it. The black bear hasn't lived in the area for more than 100 years, but now it's back.
Middle Tennessee has a lot of cool animals lurking in its woods, and now you can add black bears to the list.
According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the population has expanded to Middle Tennessee and in some cases even West Tennessee.
Now, officers here are having to come up with a plan to handle them.
For the last 100 years or more, black bears have called the mountains of East Tennessee home, and last year, officials saw a record black bear harvest of 588 bears.
And now the cuddly creatures are moving this way.
"Bears are sort of territorial, so the young bears have to move out and seek new territories. So with that expansion, hence, they're moving into Middle Tennessee," said Tennessee Black Bear Coordinator Chris Hunter.
And new wild animals mean new issues.
Right now, for the first time, wildlife officers are creating a Middle Tennessee black bear management plan.
First, they need to educate the public on black bear safety.
"They cause more problems with nuisance, and possibly danger to pets more than they do to humans," Hunter said.
Plus, they will create a brand new type of hunting season.
Black bears can be deadly, but officers say you have a better chance of getting struck and killed by lightning than killed by a bear.
Still, there are some things you can do to stay safe.
Officials suggest only putting out bird feeders during the winter when bears hibernate, getting bear-safe trash cans and to not feed the bears. If they get used to having a food source, then the food source is somehow removed, they can get agitated.
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