Numbers from the
Tennessee Wildlife
 Agency show hunters
 harvested fewer black
bears in 2014 compared
 to recent years.
The 2014 bear harvest
 count stands at 342,
which is 89 fewer than
the five-year average
 of 431 bears


TWRA wildlife population biologist Joy Sweaney
 said that drop doesn't surprise her, because bears
 natural food sources, such as nuts and berries,
 were plentiful in 2014. When that's the case, she
said, "bears tend not to roam and are therefore
 much less vulnerable."
2014 marked the first year of an expanded bea
r hunting zone, aimed at lowering the bea
r population in parts of East Tennessee.
TWRA Region 4 information and education
coordinator Matthew Cameron said 17 bears
 were harvested in that new zone along the
 Cumberland Plateau, which "is about what
 was expected."
He added the plentiful natural food sources
 in 2014 may also have contributed to a
 decrease in reported bear nuisance activity.
Still, Cameron reminds people to be proactive
 instead of reactive when it comes to black bears.
"Although bears are not commonly found in
 Knox County, they do show up on occasion
," he said. "Residents need to be mindful that
if there is bear activity they need to remove
bird feeders, secure trash, do not feed pets
 outside, and secure smokers and grills. All
these attract bears to the surrounding
Bears are responsible for the deaths o
f two people since 2000 in Tennessee.
In 2006, a bear killed a child in Polk County.
In 2000, one of the animals killed a female
 hiker in the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park, about 2.5 miles from the
Little River trailhead.
Below are 2014 black bear harvest
 numbers, by county:
Blount: 8 bears
Carter: 48 bears
Cocke: 69 bears
Fentress: 7 bears
Greene: 24 bears
Hawkins: 2 bears
Johnson: 15 bears
Monroe: 41 bears
Morgan: 1 bear
Pickett: 1 bear
Polk: 50 bears
Scott: 6 bears
Sevier: 26 bears
Sullivan: 12 bears
Unicoi: 17 bears
Washington: 15 bears
TOTAL: 342 bears