‘I just wanted to hug him’: Chilton Co. family has close encounter with a black bear in Gatlinburg

Beary friendly vacay in Gatlinburg
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 4:36 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2022 at 4:38 PM CDT
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CHILTON Co., Ala. (WBRC) - Many of you have probably been to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and have seen a bear or two, but perhaps not quite like this. McKinley Sellers Poe and her family from Thorsby and Jemison were vacationing recently in Gatlinburg, and a bear apparently wanted to hang out with them for a little while.

Poe said her family was getting ready to go see a pirate show and her father-in-law spotted the bear. Poe said the bear came close, right up to the patio, and hung out for a little while.

Poe said her in-laws told her not to get too close and to not touch the bear, but she laughed and said, “I just wanted to hug him.” She didn’t, and no one fed him. She and her family said they stayed a safe distance away.

The bear sat on their porch for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Poe and her family never saw mama bear.

She said during her trip she saw a lot more bears than they have on previous vacations.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials has a list of steps you can take to protect bears; view those here. Park officials also recommend reporting visitors that break bear guidelines, which you can do here.

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