Locals Bear Witness To Bear In Act Of Burglary

Bear feasts at candy store in Tenn. mountains

APAP

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — A bear has feasted on pecan logs, caramel
apples and other treats at a candy store in the Smoky Mountains resort
town Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Employees reporting for work found the bear Wednesday morning at the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen, where the animal apparently had knocked a hole in a glass front door to enter, according to The Mountain Press ( http://bit.ly/orYRBH ).

Police propped open several back doors and made loud noises, and the bear ran into the woods.

The animal had spread candy on the floor, and wrappers and packaging were strewn throughout a back storeroom. Pecan logs had been chewed and chunks were missing out of caramel apples.

The Abrams Creek entrance to the Great Smoky M...

Image via Wikipedia

Bob Miller of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park said bears are active this time of year, searching for food before hibernation.

More from the Mountain Press…

‘Bear’glary in ’Burg: Hungry  bear breaks into candy store

by RACHEL OSBORN The Mountain  Press

GATLINBURG — Employees at Ole Smoky Candy  Kitchen were in for a surprise Wednesday morning, as they found themselves  greeted by a bear upon entering the shop.

“It was scary inside here,”  said supervisor Harold Wright as he motioned around the shop. “I was afraid it  might do something (or harm someone). I was glad to get the bear out of here. I  hope it doesn’t come back.”

When Gwatha Kear and Dorothy Robbins arrived  at the kitchen in the early morning hours, they entered as they always do — through the back door. The pair weaved their way through the candy-making  equipment, before turning on an overhead hood light.

The door of Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen in Gatlinburg, with one sign indicating No Pets and another saying We are Bearly Open, shows the damage created by a bear looking for a sweet treat. “We turned the light  on and saw candy on the floor,” Kear said. “We could tell something had been  here, but we didn’t know what. Never in a million years did I think a bear would  break through that door.”

Candy, wrappers and packaging were strewn  throughout the back storeroom. Rock candy was broken in tiny pieces all over the  floor and nuts were scattered everywhere. Pecan logs — $15.95 a pound — had been  chewed on and hunks were missing out of $3 caramel apples. A whole container of  white-chocolate-covered pretzels was demolished, including the plastic packaging  they were housed in.

The storeroom’s cement floor was still wet and  covered in paw prints, from the bear’s walk through the morning  showers.

Upon further inspection, after rounding one of the candy-making  counters, the women noticed a hole in glass of the front door. The bear had also  relieved itself in front of the shop’s glass display cases.

“We knew a  bear was in here,” Robbins said. “We could smell it. It left its calling  card.

“We turned the hood on and I think we scared it. I’m glad it did.  If I had saw it, I would have died in my tracks. (The bear) hadn’t been in here  long. If we had waited until later to come in, it would have been a (bigger)  mess.”

Immediately the women rushed outside to sit inside their vehicles  and call Wright.

As Kear was dialing Wright’s cell phone, he pulled into  the back parking lot.

“I said, ‘There’s a bear in the shop!'” Kear  said.

The trio once again entered the shop, to alert police officers of  the situation. Though everyone assumed the bear had been scared away, that  wasn’t the case.

As Wright rounded through the storeroom’s doorway, while  Kear was on the phone, he came face to face with the bear.

“I was six  feet from it,” he said. “I told them it was a big bear and to get  outside.”

Kear threw the phone down and dashed out the back  door.

“(Wright) said I practically knocked him down,” she  said.

Shop co-owner Patti Edwards adds, “(Wright) said he’d never seen  (her) run so fast.”

After officers arrived, they propped open several  back doors and made loud noises — ushering the bear outside. The bear wandered  through the parking lot and off into the woods, where it hopefully won’t be seen  again.

Edwards will dispose of all the gnawed on candy, as well as  goodies stored near the bear’s feasting ground. Overall, the bear destroyed $400  or $500 of sugary sweets.

Taffy apple with peanuts

Image via Wikipedia

“It’s a bear with good taste,” she  said.

The shop’s front door had to be replaced as well.

Though  bears typically are skittish around people, waning food supplies and increasing  human interference have caused bears’ fears to lessen.

“This is the time  of year bears are typically feeding vigorously to put on weight for  hibernation,” said National Park spokesman Bob Miller. “They really feed heavily  in the fall. There’s a lot of bear activity, both within and outside the  park.”

For bears hunting for food, the coming months will be a struggle.  Poor berry and acorn crops have forced the bears to travel in search of food,  finding spotty patches here and there.

“No food makes them pretty  mobile,” Miller said.

To minimize interactions with bears, people living  near park boundaries should take extra precautions this year.

Don’t  refill bird feeders; avoid taking garbage out until the morning of garbage day;  and store dog food inside are some ideas Miller suggests.

“Try to  minimize the attraction of food sources to bears and you’ll have fewer  problems,” he said. “The trick is to minimize the attraction of your property  for bears.

“(The bear at Ole Smoky’s) had been getting food regularly or  it wouldn’t have been that bold. They’ll associate food rewards with people and  then go into places where humans have been. (Candy) is a great bear  snack.”

rosborn@themountainpress.com

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