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Bear crashes Alabama family’s Gatlinburg vacation

Knoxville WVLT-TV logo Knoxville WVLT-TV 8/14/2022 Carissa Simpson
An Alabama family was vacationing in Gatlinburg when they received an unexpected visitor. © Provided by Knoxville WVLT-TV An Alabama family was vacationing in Gatlinburg when they received an unexpected visitor.

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WVLT) - An Alabama family was vacationing in Gatlinburg when they received an unexpected visitor.

Mckinley Sellers Poe and her family were headed out to a pirate show when her father-in-law spotted a bear.

“It walked right up to the patio and hung out for a little while,” Poe said. The bear sat on the porch for around 10 to 15 minutes and was not near a mother bear.

“I just wanted to hug him,” Poe said. Her in-laws advised against getting too close and touching the bear. Poe said she and her family stayed a safe distance away.

If they had not, the family could have faced repercussions. A hotel in Gatlinburg reported it had to kick 10 or 15 guests in the past because they got too close to bears.

It is also illegal to come within 50 yards of a bear, according to Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency also posted a list of steps visitors and residents can take to protect bears.

Poe said she had seen a lot more bears on this vacation than on previous vacations, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park representative Dana Soehn advised that times are tough for bears right now as natural food sources are low.

All nuisance bear issues need to be reported to the TWRA as soon as possible.

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