GATLINBURG, Tenn. – Wildlife officers say a Virginia woman has been charged after they say she fed a black bear while on vacation in Tennessee.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Association said Friday that a video posted on social media shows 21-year-old Kristin Hailee Farris hand-feeding what appeared to be watermelon, chocolate and other items to a black bear in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on Sept. 30.
When the video was first released, wildlife officers quickly issued warnings that feeding bears is dangerous and could result in serious injuries.
According to news reports, officers say Farris faces a Class B misdemeanor, which can result up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.
TWRA says regulations have been in place since 2000 that prohibit feeding bears or leaving food in garbage cans that could attract bears within a six mile radius of Gatlinburg.
“The overwhelming desire to have a close encounter with a black bear is strangely more powerful than common sense,” said Sevier County Wildlife Sgt. David Sexton in a statement. “Many people intentionally feed bears with little regard for the dire consequences to the bears and humans they leave behind.”