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Bear spotted on Gatlinburg building goes viral

Matt Cameron from TWRA says if you see a bear in public, try to give it space.

Gatlinburg — Crowds along the parkway in Gatlinburg saw the bear on the top of the Ripley's Moving Theater over the weekend.

TWRA says the Gatlinburg Police Department originally thought the bear was trapped, but it eventually got down, and is safe.

“We all wanted to know how he got up there," Leigh Reinhardt said.

Watching the bear on the roof didn’t surprise Reinhardt.

“We’ve seen him do some pretty amazing things," she said. "He’s pretty mischievous."

Reinhardt works at the Park View Inn down the street, and says Parker the Bear is around all the time.

She knew him in the video almost immediately.

“He has several very distinctive features," Reinhardt said. "On each side of him, he has a very light brown spot...and he’s the only one that’s not been tagged or collared.”

And now he has an online following, with 145,000 views on his video.

It's generating a lot of comments.That includes questions whether the 2016 wildfires affected the bears' habitat sending bears, like Parker, into town.

“The long term effects of it are probably going to be pretty minimal," TWRA Spokesperson Matt Cameron said.

Cameron says it doesn't affect them much, because there's plenty of space in the Smokies.

“Sure, there are probably some food sources that were burned in the fire that bears could utilize, but once again, you’ve got half a million other acres that they can go to and utilize as a food source," Cameron said.

However, Cameron says we are seeing more of them.

“We’re seeing bears more often because we’re moving into their areas, they’re coming into ours, so we’re coming into contact with them I think more than we used to," Cameron said.

And sightings spread fast on social media.

“Everything is so instantaneous" Cameron said. "Someone sees a bear in an unusual area, takes a video of it, posts it online, it goes viral just within a matter of minutes.”

Cameron says bears are nervous with lots of people around, like in downtown Gatlinburg.

So if you see one, try to give it room, so you can stay safe.

Warning to tourists in East Tennessee: Please don't get too close to our bears!

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