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Foraging bear startles Anakeesta visitors

Patrons of the Gatlinburg attraction saw the bear Tuesday night go for trash inside a trash bin.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Visitors at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg were startled Tuesday night to see a foraging bear stride up to a trash bin, pull it out and then bluff charge as people tried to shoo it away.

It spent several moments at the bin in a dining area trying to get food from the trash -- acting as if it had done this before -- before finally fleeing down a set of stairs.

Anakeesta personnel drew the bear's attention to try to get it to leave, the video shows.

Tyler Crawford shot video of the incident and gave WBIR permission to use it.

At one point an onlooker said, "Can someone make this thing leave?"

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials remind the public that this is the time of years for bears to forage for food.

It's also not unusual to see bears throughout Gatlinburg, and elsewhere, partly because many have gotten used to seeing humans and the bear population has thrived.

You're also warned to stay away from bears. Do not engage with them.

The attraction issued this statement to WBIR on Wednesday morning.

"The safety of our guests and staff is our number one priority at Anakeesta. As an outdoor park with over 70 acres adjacent to the national park, bear protocol is part of the training for all of our staff.

"I am proud at how our entire team jumped into action to keep a safe distance between our guests and the bear that entered the outdoor restaurant space.

"This is a busy time of year in Gatlinburg for bear activity and we continue to closely monitor, train our staff and work with all of our local TWRA resources."