Joe Durnin

Wildlife officer with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, on the black bear that TWRA nabbed on Jackson Avenue early Tues. morning

Street Talk

How do you think a black bear found its way into the Old City?

That was simply a passageway out. He had been in the Sutherland area in the Westwood community for the last three weeks and was eating well and regularly. I guess he was in the mood to move on and followed the pathway downtown. I wouldn't be surprised if he was going out the way he came in, but that's just speculation. He was following the railroad tracks and felt like he was in some cover there and followed the railroad tracks into the Old City. At that time, somebody sighted him and people began to respond and he quit moving, which is when he went up under a railroad car then ran into the Old City, which is where we ended up darting him.  

Do you recall this happening before in Knoxville?

We've had bears in town many times. It's not uncommon for them to range through. We have it happen every year pretty much, but generally they keep moving. This is the first time that we've had one stay around for such a long time in such an urban place. It's very rare that we've had to intervene and dart the bear or try to trap the bear. Every other time they've moved on their own. This one was pretty persistent about staying for a while.  

Where will the bear be taken?

I took him back to some of our folks in Monroe County this morning. The man there is going to tag it, measure it, you know, weight and everything. That way we have a history on it if it shows up again anywhere. Then they'll release the bear tonight or tomorrow morning.

Can city residents do anything to prevent bears from wandering into the city?

This is a bit of information that's good for city residents, regardless of whether they're facing bears or raccoons or possums or whatever. If you leave pet food out at night you're attracting any kind of wild animal that is in your vicinity. This year, we're probably going to see more bears than we have had in a long time, because of the freezes this fall and an expanding bear population. It's just inevitable that we'll have more bear visits than we have historically seen. It's good for city residents to think more along the lines of Sevier County residents in regard of what they do to their trash or pet food to keep wild animals away.

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