WATCH: Bear Runs into Gatlinburg Restaurant, Walks Along Visitors on Sidewalk

by Matthew Memrick

A black bear ran into a Gatlinburg restaurant on Friday, walked by visitors on a sidewalk, but did not find a reason to stay.

WATE News reported a Crawdaddy’s Restaurant employee who witnessed the event in the Tennessee town. The employee said the bear ran up a front staircase, entered the eatery, but quickly left after.

Kacie Faulling Myers, who was visiting from South Carolina, shared a sidewalk photo of the bear. She also took a video.

The television station said the bear sighting drew a few folks with their cell phones to record the event.

The bear even looks up at a man standing only feet away beside a trash can in one of Faulling Myers’s photos.

Reportedly, Gatlinburg Police said an ambulance arrived at the scene to treat a person that the bear knocked over. There was no other information about the bear or the person.

Like Gatlinburg Restaurant, Bears Like To Get Near Visitors

Bears have shown up in public at the Tennessee vacation hotspot over the past few months. One man caught a bear in his hot tub on video in March while another was in trash cans at a gas station months later.

In 2020, vacationers caught another black bear one night at Anakeesta’s Smokehouse, near the Gatlinburg theme park.

“We were sitting down and drinking hot chocolate. We had our backs turned to it. My son says ‘Look, a bear’ as casually as he could,” Tyler Crawford told the TV station.

After those events, wildlife officials asked people to stay “bear aware.” The area is a natural habitat for bears and officials.

The bear tried to get into trash cans and charged at an employee trying to scare the animal off. There were no injuries reported.

“Being too close may promote aggressive behavior from the bear such as running toward you, making loud noises, or swatting the ground. The bear is demanding more space. Don’t run, but slowly back away, watching the bear. Increase the distance between you and the bear. The bear will probably do the same,” reads a notice on the website.

A 2020 report interviewed Tennessee officials who said there were at least 6,000 black bears in the state. The station reported sightings in Gatlinburg and most East Tennessee counties and many in middle Tennessee areas.

Bear hunting varies from state to state. Hunting seasons change from September to the beginning of January.

In Tennessee, bear hunting is allowed in five hunting zones in the eastern counties. To combat the population, hunters can hunt for these bears. In 2018, hunters bagged a record-setting 759 black bears. Hunters must have a special license for either a year or seven days. Also, hunters are limited to one black bear of either sex per year. Bears 75 pounds or less are off-limits.

Tennessee also developed a website to report bears sightings.