Was it a bear or Bigfoot?
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Courier Editor

Was it a bear? How about Bigfoot?? that recently tried to break into a Van Hooser Road residence?

Unfortunately, evidence collected by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency indicates an entirely different culprit.

"It was a dog," was the conclusion reached by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's Mark Vance.

The Cannon County Sheriff's Office got the call and responded to reports someone or something was trying to break down the back door to the house. No critter was visible, but there was plenty of evidence left at the scene of the crime.

Bite marks and claw marks were visible at several points along the door and two sections of paneling had been ripped off the structure. A pane of glass had been cracked on an adjacent window.

Suspecting the break-in artist might be a bear, the Sheriff's Office notified TWRA's Vance. Photographs were taken and evidence was collected for testing.
Vance took the call, went out and took photos and collected some evidence. Indications are it was a dog probably frightened by Fourth of July fireworks. He did take the evidence to TWRA headquarters in Nashville and let experts examine it. Among the evidence was clear photos of canine paw prints.

"He got a call and responded. When he got there, people were shooting fireworks next door," said TWRA's Ben Cross. "He noticed a couple of dogs on the porch and that one of them seemed disturbed by the noise. There was also undisturbed food in the area."

"His observations and his reasoning was it was likely a dog and not a bear. If a bear had wanted inside the house he would have gotten in and chances are he wouldn't have gone through the door," Cross said.

A bear would have fled from the noise, he said.

While black bears aren't common in Cannon County, there have been several reports this summer of bears spotted in nearby counties.

"It isn't unlikely for a bear to be spotted particularly in the eastern part of Region II (Middle Tennessee). During this time of year, young male bears are out seeking a territory of their own and are prone to wander," he said.

Occasional bear sightings are more likely in Region III, which covers the Cumberland Plateau.

"We recently had a sighting in Coffee County, but we don't really have a breeding population in this area," Cross said.

If anyone does see a bear, they need to keep their distance.

"It's a wild animal and not slow moving. If you keep your distance they will move on. That is the best idea when dealing with a bear. If you get close, they could feel cornered and get aggressive," he said.

Every year the TWRA receives hundreds of calls and complaints concerning black bears, primarily in East Tennessee. Most of the complaints are of bears raiding garbage containers, bird feeders and pet food left outdoors. It is not TWRA policy to trap and move bears causing these types of problems.
Due to the relatively large home ranges and mobility of bears, there is no place remote enough in Tennessee to relocate bears where they will not have contact with humans, the TWRA said. Secondly, by moving bears often all that is accomplished is just the problem has been moved and not solved. Long-term solution to bears raiding garbage containers, bird feeders, and pet food left outdoors is to simply remove the food source and bears most often will go elsewhere.


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