Bears have always been my favorite wild animal, so I was stoked to find out that black bears have been spotted in Middle Tennessee and even in Nashville. As sightings began to spread from Spring Hill to counties north of Nashville, my happiness turned to concern. What should I do if I happen upon a bear on one of my daily walks? What should I tell my kids to do if they encounter a bear in the neighborhood? The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Agency has these tips for living among black bears:

  • Never feed or approach bears!
  • If a bear approaches you in the wild, it is probably trying to assess your presence.
  • If you see a black bear from a distance, alter your route of travel, return the way you came, or wait until it leaves the area.
  • Make your presence known by yelling and shouting at the bear in an attempt to scare it away.
  • If approached by a bear, stand your ground, raise your arms to appear larger, yell and throw rocks or sticks until it leaves the area.
  • When camping in bear country, keep all food stored in a vehicle and away from tents.
  • Never run from a black bear! This will often trigger its natural instinct to chase.
  • If a black bear attacks, fight back aggressively and do not play dead! Use pepper spray, sticks, rocks, or anything you can find to defend yourself. If cornered or threatened, bears may slap the ground, “pop” their jaws, or “huff” as a warning. If you see these behaviors, you are too close! Slowly back away while facing the bear at all times.
  • If you see a bear in Middle Tennessee, make sure you notify TWRA by using this form.

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