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Gatlinburg cabin renters cause social media outrage over bear feeding photos

GATLINBURG (WATE) – Many people were outraged after seeing a picture someone posted on Facebook of their group feeding a bear outside their rental cabin in Gatlinburg.

“A baby doesn’t know any better, but a mom being protective could really hurt them,” said Barbie Vincent, a Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitor.

Feeding bears in Gatlinburg is illegal. Someone who saw the photo contacted the company who owns the house, Cabins USA Gatlinburg, to complain.

“Once we were notified, our first reaction was to get in touch with them as quickly as possible. We have been unable to reach them over the phone so we went to check on them at the property,” said Andrea Houser, owner liaison of Cabins USA Gatlinburg.

An hour later, the renters called back Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. TWRA was partnering with Cabins USA Gatlinburg during the investigation.

The TWRA gave the people who fed the bears a court appearance citation, the penalty for feeding a bear. Cabins USA Gatlinburg gives every renter information on what to do if they encounter. This is the second time this year the TWRA has issued this citation for this situation in Gatlinburg.

“It’s an unfortunate incident and we hope to take this platform and opportunity for future instances on how to handle and not handle this situation,” said Houser.

“A fed bear is a dead bear,” said Andy Hentz, a park visitor.

TWRA agrees. It says there is no alternative but to kill bears that have become too comfortable around people and therefore, a threat to people’s safety.

“They need to stop. Yes it’s cute but if they want to see bears, they need to go to a zoo,” said Hentz.

Along with not feeding the bears, TWRA says there are a number of things you should do to keep wildlife safe: store garbage in bear proof containers, keep pet food indoors and keep cooking grills clean.