Residents in Athens, Tennessee, have been placed on alert after a black bear was spotted running through town on Wednesday.
At least one bear has been seen around the Dupit Street and Tellico Avenue area east of Congress Parkway on Wednesday, according to a post on the city's social media page. There was also a sighting reported later at Haley Street headed toward Oak Street a block away and closer to the downtown area, but there was no word on whether it was the same or a different bear, officials reported.
Athens police officer Sarah Gray snapped a photo of the bear as it high-tailed across the street, officials said of a photo posted with the alert on social media.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials have been notified, officials said.
The TWRA recently issued warnings that young male bears this time of year are seeking food and new territory and ranging far and wide.
REPORT BEAR SIGHTINGS AND PROBLEMS
Tennessee: If bears present safety or property problems call the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in Southeast Tennessee at 800-262-6704 or in upper East Tennessee at 800-332-0900 or visit tn.gov/twra to find more information.
Georgia: Call the Georgia Department of Natural Resources 770-918-6401 or go to georgiawildlife.com to find information on how to deal with bears and other problem wildlife.
Alabama: Go to alabamablackbearalliance.org/bear-report or call 800-822-9453 to report a bear sighting.
Springtime activities involving humans such as gardening, hiking and grilling outdoors can be like a beacon to roaming bears, TWRA spokeswoman Mime Barnes said last month.
Sometimes people unknowingly ring the dinner bell.
"Attractants include bird feeders, trash, grills and pet food bowls with leftover food," Barnes said.
Greasy grills, ripe vegetables in a garden, trash and bird feeders not only attract bears, but also provide effortless meals, she said, and a bear doesn't forget where its last easy meal came from, according to officials.
Wildlife officials urge people to become "bear wise," referring to the nonprofit bear education program, bearwise.org, a website that educates the public and publicizes bear safety measures it says everyone should follow. The program was developed by bear biologists from each of the 15 state wildlife agencies that make up the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Contact Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.
DON’T FEED THE BEARS AND DON’T BE BEAR FOOD
*If you see a bear in your yard, look large and make a lot of noise, back slowly away
*Never approach or follow a bear to take photos
*Do not purposefully feed bears
*Remove all attractants from your yard including bird feeders, uneaten pet food and ripe fruits or garden vegetables
*Store grills in a garage or outbuilding
*Store trash and recycling in bear proof containers
*Do not feed birds between April and January when bears are most active
*Remove uneaten pet food from outside areas or feed pets indoors
*Do not add greasy foods to your compost piles or compost in bear-proof containers
*Keep cooking grills clean and stored indoors when not in use
Source: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency