Bear Sits up at Picnic Table in Video, Sparks Debate over Tourists' Food

A Reddit user shared footage of a bear perched up at a picnic table, helping itself to food, and sparked a debate on how food should be handled in areas with bears.

Takeheedyoungheathen posted an image of the bear sat at the picnic table to Subreddit "Mildly Interesting," gaining over 24,000 votes in 11 hours. The user also shared a video of the bear to "Animals Being Jerks" and amassed over 15,000 votes there too.

The footage shows the black bear casually sat at a picnic table in Mynatt Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in a human-like manner. It then can be seen helping itself to Oreos and black beans on the table.

"[It] walked up out of the creek behind the picnic table with no sound or warning. We were cleaning up and my sister went over to the grill to clean it and saw the bear pop up out of the creek. Had about 15 seconds to grab what we could and get to a safe distance before the bear reached the table," clarified the Reddit user in a comment.

According to comments by the Reddit user, the bear had two tags in its ears, making it likely that it wasn't the first time it had done something like this.

In the end, park rangers shot a paintball gun in its direction, after the family's attempts to shoo it away failed to work.

However, the video has sparked conversation surrounding how responsible visitors are for attracting bears.

"The park is made for people to grill out and we were not the only ones to do so that day. The bear is not going to be euthanized. The bear had ear tags and was shooed away by a park ranger about 10 minutes later and the bear was on his way back into the woods. We had been there cooking for almost an hour prior and were in the process of cleaning up. If the bear had shown up five minutes later there would have been nothing there for him," wrote Takeheedyoungheathen.

"Our food was mostly contained, save for the last hamburger on the grill and the baked beans he's seen eating that he opened himself. We're just thankful he showed up when the park was mostly empty, there had been a wedding in the same area of the park about a half hour prior. The bear is safe and so are we," they added.

Others however claimed that simply covering food is not enough, and that more should be done by visitors to prevent bears approaching and eating food.

Some even claimed that once an incident like this happens, the bear could end up being euthanized due to it not fearing humans.

"As soon as the public is gone, that is a dead bear. Once they have lost their fear of humans there is no saving them. We hand out bear tags to hunters like candy. There would be no problem euthanizing this animal as soon as we are out of public view," wrote one user, who claimed to be a wildlife biologist. "Don't feed the bears. A fed bear is a dead bear."

"This picture might look funny, but this bear is a two time offender. Third strike could mean it has to be put down. A fed bear is a dead bear. You should be screaming and shouting to scare a bear away if it ever is close to you like this. It's safer for them to be afraid of humans," wrote another user.

Reportedly, black bears in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are often past that point already, and fear humans much less than wilder bears, as they're so used to tourists.

Local tourist attractions advise visitors not to feed bears, and do all they can to prevent bears smelling any nearby food, so they don't associate humans as a food source.

Young black bear
Young black bear. A black bear was captured sitting up at a picnic table in an online video. Getty Images