Black bear spotted on Lakeside Drive in Defeated, Tennessee – Photograph by Kayla Smith

DEFEATED, Tennessee—Pictures of an adolescent black bear on Lakeside Drive in Smith County were circulating on Facebook on Monday, July 9, 2018.

Defeated resident Kayla Smith reported seeing a black bear scamper across the road around 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning. Smith posted two pictures of the bear to her personal Facebook page.

Residents of the Kempville community also reported seeing the bear near the Smith County/Jackson County line on Sunday morning. Katie Goolsby shared pictures of the bear in that location on Facebook.

Black bear spotted on Kempville Highway – Photograph by Katie Goolsby

These black bear sightings in Smith County follow several bear sightings that were reported in the Cookeville and Livingston areas in the beginning of June.

Kayla Smith told Smith County Insider that she had received some backlash from sharing the bear’s location on Facebook, but she wanted people to be aware of the situation. She especially wants those who have small children and pets to be on the lookout. 

“I want people to be aware that [the bears] are local now,” Smith said. “But there is no reason to bother them. They are just migrating here as many other animals and species have.”

According to Smith, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has been informed that a bear has been spotted in Smith County.

The TWRA website instructs Tennesseans to remember that, while bears are usually tolerant of humans, they are still wild animals and should be treated with caution and respect.

The TWRA also provides these guidelines intended to help “minimize many unnecessary and potentially dangerous encounters” with 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.

You can report a black bear sighting to the TWRA by clicking this link.

You can learn more about black bears in Tennessee by visiting https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/mammals/large/black-bears.html.