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    New bear-proof trash cans installed along TN scenic byways ahead of summer

    By Melanie Vásquez Russell,


    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ( WATE ) — Some people’s trash could become a bear’s treasure , but that’s not what state officials and wildlife experts like to see especially as travel for both humans and animals increases in the summertime.

    The Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are reminding travelers in Tennessee to throw their trash in the right places, and new bear-proof trash cans have been installed along some of the Volunteer State’s scenic byways.

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    TDOT announced on Tuesday ahead of Memorial Day that 80 bright blue Nobody Trashes Tennessee-branded bear-proof trash cans are now speckled along the state’s scenic byways. The heavy-duty containers, according to TDOT, are specifically designed to withstand the curiosity and strength of bears, ensuring that waste is securely contained, and wildlife remains unharmed.

    The trash cans have been installed along the following scenic byways: Great River Road, Woodlands Trace, Tennessee River Trail, Cumberland National Scenic Byway, Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway, Cherohala Skyway, and East Tennessee Crossing Byway.
    Bear proof trashcan at the Sequatchie Valley Overlook on TN 111 (Photo courtesy of TDOT)

    “Tennessee’s scenic byways are renowned for their breathtaking vistas, rich history, and diverse ecosystems, attracting tourists and nature enthusiasts from around the globe,” Butch Eley, Deputy Governor and TDOT Commissioner, stated in a news release. “However, with summer travel and the influx of visitors along the byways, comes the challenge of managing waste responsibly, especially in areas inhabited by wildlife. We encourage visitors and residents alike to enjoy our beautiful state and dispose of litter responsibly.”

    “Black bears are one of Tennessee’s state treasures and it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep them wild and keep them alive,” Dan Gibbs, TWRA Black Bear Coordinator, said. “Bear management experience has shown that bears attracted to human food sources, or that are deliberately fed by humans, have a relatively short life.”

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    TWRA has shared the following guidelines in order to minimize “many unnecessary and potentially dangerous” bear encounters :

    • Never feed or approach bears!
    • When camping in bear country, keep all food stored in a vehicle and away from tents, and dispose of food waste in the proper receptacles.
    • If you see a black bear from a distance, alter your route of travel, return the way you came, or wait until it leaves the area.
    • Make your presence known by yelling and shouting at the bear to scare it away.
    • If approached by a bear, stand your ground, raise your arms to appear larger, yell, and throw rocks or sticks until they leave the area.
    • Never run from a black bear! This will often trigger its instinct to chase.
    • If a black bear attacks, fight back aggressively and do not play dead! Use pepper spray, sticks, rocks, or anything you can find to defend yourself. If cornered or threatened, bears may slap the ground, “pop” their jaws, or “huff” as a warning. If you see these behaviors, you are too close! Slowly back away while always facing the bear.
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    TWRA also encourages people to contact them immediately if they witness aggressive behavior by black bears at: . For additional information about what to do when encountering a bear while hiking and camping, you can visit bearwise .org

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WATE 6 On Your Side.

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