Black Bear return to Middle Tennessee

black bear in treeWelcome back, black bears. Tennesseans hunted out the black bear in most of the state long ago. They’ve survived in the mountains of East Tennessee and have been relocated to Big Fork South on the Cumberland Plateau. But thankfully they’re returning to Middle Tennessee. TWRA is confirming the sighting of a black bear in Hickman County, west of Nashville.

Bears needn’t be feared as long as you respect them and give them plenty of space. Bear hunting in Middle Tennessee is not permitted. This is a beautiful, regal animal. Misbehaving bears are usually responding to idiotic human stimuli.

For more information on black bears, check out Appalachian Bear Rescue.

Welcome back fella!

HT: The Tennessean

black bear track found in cannon county
UPDATE 3/28/2008: Originally the theory was this bear came from Mississippi or Arkansas. But according to the Tennessean, tracks were reported to TWRA in Cannon County about a week ago. They’re now speculating this bear came from the east from the Cumberland or Appalachian Mountains.

I hope this is the beginning of a new herd here in Middle Tennessee. I believe that man can live in relative harmony with bears as long as we get them plenty of space and respect. If so, let’s learn from our neighbors in the Smokys about how to peaceably coexist with this majestic animal.

11 replies on “Black Bear return to Middle Tennessee”

  1. Spotted bear tracks 01/30/2011 in Davidson County in the Newson Station area. The tracks were on the bank of a creek that feeds into the Harpeth River. Tracks were about 4 inches maybe 5 inches wide. Track had 5 Distinct claw marks.

  2. I saw a medium sized black bear in Maury/Marshall county area, just a few feet off the road in the woods, it was close to the boat ramp on the duck river. Just 1 mile up the road, several deer were paniced and running. This is on a very remote road that runs close to the two counties lines and is next to wildlife management land.

    I do know a bear when I see one, due to living for many years in Alaska, I am well aware of what a bear looks like. I would love to hear if anyone else sees this animal soon.

  3. Several sightings in the past several weeks in N Lawrence Co along the Buffalo. One sighting involved a lengthy “chase/follow” thru the woods. Sightings have explained some recent “signs” and “domestic animal behavior” many residents been noticing for some time.

  4. I’m sorry, but you have no idea what you are talking about, Mr. Bryan. Having lived among bear populations in Wyoming and Montana, I can tell you that humans and bears are incompatible. After frequenting suburban areas, bears will eventually become fearless of humans. They will eat anything and are attracted to human garbage. Bears will even enter homes in search of food. Talk to the people who actually live around bears and you will find that, not only can they be a serious nuisance, they can also be extremely dangerous.

    Please reconsider your advocacy regarding the growth of the bear population in or around humans. I admire and respect bears. They are fascinating creatures and I am very pleased that they are succeeding in North America. However, I do not want bears near people who are unfamiliar with their behavior. It’s a recipe for disaster.


  5. I agree with FAX comments. We have been hearing about sightings around the Dale Hollow Lake area for the last few years. As FAX mentions, people in this area are not ready to be in the same area as a black bear. My concern is my dogs. On occassion I hike and or just let my dogs run through the hills hear around the lake. I don’t know what the instinct would be if a dog should come across a black bear. I understand that bears are always on the lookout for garbage, but I’m not sure if they would seek out to kill a domestic dog? I would prefer not to hear about bears moving into the area.

    1. @Erin: I certainly understand that bears who have lost their fear of humans are a nuisance and can be quite dangerous. I believe bear incidents are quite tragic all the way around. While they may swipe a person or take a family pet, they will lose their life if caught and that is a tragedy too. The key I believe is educating people to keep their distance and other precautions such as properly disposing of food and garbage, hence why I pointed people to the Appalachian Bear Rescue to learn more. I still welcome them back. After all, they were here first.

  6. Ill never understand the lack of common sense in America today, Bears are KILLERS, you’ll think their cool to observe until one of them snatches your son or daughter out of your yard, as for me, if I see one its Goodby time!!!

  7. I lived around bears for many years in Alaska. While they belonged there, they no longer belong here. Even in Alaska, with all the forest land, bears would turn up in places that they were not suppose to be and tragedy would follow. I do not fall into the believe that only bears who lose their fear of humans are a problem, any bear can be a problem. Those of us in the country do not want bears for neighbors. I have grandchildren and pets that should be able to enjoy the safety of not having a black bear attack and kill or maim them for playing in the field.

    Yes, at one time they were here, so were many animals that I would not want to run into. Part of settling the land, is killing or chasing off predators that will eat you. Our ancestors did that successfully, and with good reason. They may be trying to return, but we do not have the areas for them now. Middle Tennessee is not a place for bears to live. I enjoy watching them also, but in an area that can support them and not in an area with families and pets that can be injured. Just ask residents of Lake Tahoe about bears, they have to employee people to chase the bears out of public and private places full time. Do you really want that here?

    1. I live in the country as well and would gladly welcome them to my neck of the woods.

      I appreciate everyone’s discussion on the topic, and likely we will never agree on this. I do appreciate passionate discussion and am glad we can disagree without name calling.

      Who knew a post I wrote four years ago would become so popular!

  8. Yes a bear can kill you. A dog can, cat, bees, etc. A gator will come closer to getting a dog than a bear. It seems a shame we as people take over and expect all creatures to just move on out. I should say white people. We even expected the ones who lived here to move on out.

    Yes there can be a bear problem. Most of it is idiots that feed them, or don’t use bear proof garbage containers. Or if a mom has her cubs and you scare her or them.

    I camped out in Colorado weekends and never saw one in the mountains. My guess is they were around. I stored the food right and wasn’t alone. My dogs slept in the tents as well.

    If you are so afraid of bears my advise is to move to a city and live in it. Not saying they can’t wander in like in Alaska several critters do, but for the most you may walk right past a bear and never see it.

    Moved to FL too until I had to come back and help dad. No one wants to get eaten by sharks either but it doesn’t seem to stop people from getting min to the water.

  9. I live in Davidson co about a mile or two away from the area Steve the first guy who commented referred to seeing track at !And i have seen them as well along with really large scat with deer hair in it & a large honeycomb dug out of the ground and destroyed with distinguished claw marks around it in early January 2013 ! They might just be passing through but they are here !

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