“Park service law enforcement was looking into the incident of the people trying to feed the bear peanut butter.”
A black bear had to be trapped and tranquilized in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Sunday after the animal was getting too close to humans who were trying to feed it peanut butter. Your Basin News reports park crews were receiving reports that the bear was allowing humans to get a little too close on Sunday in Cades Cove, a popular destination for visitors:
“We had started to get reports that people were throwing food towards this bear. And so, we were concerned that this bear might quickly become what we would call food conditioned.” –Bill Stiver, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Supervisory Wildlife Biologist
A food-conditioned bear is one that willfully approaches cars, people and homes just in search of food. To deter this type of behavior Stiver said they took a proactive approach in hopes it would stay away from humans down the road.
“We captured the bear, tranquilized it, and marked it with ear tags, and actually released it back into Cades Cove. We didn’t move it.”
It’s a form of conditioning where the animal might gain fear of humans. Stiver said this technique is about 60% successful, with success meaning they don’t have to deal with the bear again.
“The idea being that we wanted that animal to be afraid of people and not allow people to get very close, because we know sooner or later somebody is going to throw food out.”
Luckily for the bear, rangers just trapped, tranqed and released but if it becomes a liability more severe actions might be taken. Listen folks, its never good for a bears to become habituated to human food so make sure to keep a clean camp, deposit all trash in bear safe bins and for god’s sake don’t purposely feed them.