This story happens every year here in Tennessee, particularly in tourist-heavy areas like Gatlinburg. Bears— often nursing moms who are desperate for the extra food— will accept an offer of pet food from curious people who want to see them up close. The bear quickly realizes that pet food is a good snack, so she looks for it in other places— on decks and in yards. Then she learns that humans aren’t that scary, and that where there are people, there’s usually food.
This bear just wants to eat. She doesn’t know that the residents of her neighborhood are starting to fear her. She doesn’t know that they’re calling the state and demanding death for her and her cubs. She doesn’t know how soon a game warden— who is only doing what needs to be done to preserve human safety— will find her. She doesn’t know who the men with guns are when they approach her, as she digs in the garbage can of a vacation cabin.
She hears a terrifying bang. Her children’s lifeless, bloodied bodies are the last thing she sees before bullet enters her skull.
All because someone gave her dog food.
Don’t contribute to this problem. Pass it on: a fed bear is a dead bear.