Middle TN residents petition TWRA for black bear hunting season - WSMV Channel 4

Middle TN residents petition TWRA for black bear hunting season

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CROSSVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It was an ambitious goal to bring the black bear population back to the Cumberland Plateau, but what some see as success others call a growing problem.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency moved two dozen black bears to the Big South Fork in the 1990s, but those bears love to eat, and they keep getting into some family farms.

Fentress County resident Lathern Hull and his family didn't even plant sweet corn this year. Bears love sweet corn, so he now keeps his garden small and close to the house.

"That's the problems that we're having, the bee hives, raiding peoples barns, tearing fences down, just bears being bears," Hull said.

The Hull family has lived in Allardt, TN, since 1858. They say it's been a 100 years since bears have caused this many problems, so they think it's time for an official bear hunting season.

"We have asked for the last several years for a hunting season to control the population and manage it. Now something has got to be done," Hull said.

The TWRA says black bears are now in Cumberland, Scott, Morgan, Fentress and Pickett counties and says just because they are doing well doesn't mean it's time to start hunting them.

"There's a lot we need to learn about that population before we as resource managers can feel really comfortable about opening a hunt on those bears," said TWRA official Kirk Miles.

The TWRA says they will help trap bears and give homeowners advice on how to keep crops safe.

Hull said the advice usually costs families money, and it's much more cost effective to stop the problem with a hunting season.

Currently, there is a black bear hunting season scheduled in 12 Tennessee counties, but nowhere near Middle Tennessee.

Some 250 people from the Cumberland Plateau signed a petition urging the TWRA to have some kind of limited black bear hunting season. The current population of black bears is estimated at 246.

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