Tennessee, Georgia wildlife officials warn of spring black bears on the move

Contributed photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / American black bears are shown in an undated U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo.

A 500-pound male black bear relocated in March from the neighborhood of a Northeast Tennessee university campus is a striking reminder of why humans should be vigilant this spring when bears rising from their winter slumber are on the move looking for food.

Items like loosely-contained garbage, barbecue grills, pet food and bird feeders amount to ringing the dinner bell for unwanted predators, according to officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and others.

TWRA spokesperson Mime Barnes said while the relocation of the big male bear in the northeast corner of the state attracted a lot of attention, the action itself stemmed from worries about human-bear interactions because of the animal's contact with human food sources.

Intentionally and unintentionally feeding bears can lead to serious problems for bears and humans, Barnes said Monday in a telephone interview.