At the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, wild animals roam freely and generally stay away from humans as much as possible – that is until someone foolish comes along and intentionally thinks that feeding them is an “adorable and wondrous” experience.
A 27-year-old woman is now facing federal fines and possible jail time after feeding peanut butter to a bear at the park. The woman had been traveling with two other adults, and investigators were able to track her down after “witnesses provided video documentation” of the encounter.
According to WitnNews, rangers stated the woman was given a citation on Saturday after confessing to feeding the 100-pound male bear who had been observed eating walnuts along Cades Cove Loop Road near Gatlinburg given to him by other park visitors. Biologists suspect the bear appeared to be food-conditioned. He was tranquilized and marked with an ear tag.
Feeding, touching, disturbing or willfully approaching wildlife within 50 yards, or any distance that disturbs or displaces wildlife, is illegal in the park.
Sadly, we all know what happens when wild animals become conditioned to people feeding them and they start encroaching into residential areas and approaching people and pets. Let wild animals be wild; let us all enjoy them with our cameras and standing safely away from them.