A black bear in Tennessee charged at a man who was seen on video Saturday approaching the animal and her cubs.
The man is seen coming within feet of the bear and her cubs at Cades Cove, a popular tourist spot in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The man was not hurt, according to Paige Marple of Knoxville, who was in the area with her boyfriend and brother when they noticed the bear and her cubs. Marple told Fox News that they stayed in their truck and watched from a distance as the man approached the bear.
She recorded the risky encounter.
Marple called what she had witnessed “intense,” calling it unbelievable that the man had gotten away unscathed.
“I don’t know how he’s still alive, honestly,” Marple wrote on her Facebook page on Saturday, adding that in Cades Cove “there are signs everywhere stating to stay 50 yards away from the animals.”
“This man did not listen and could have died because of it,” she wrote.
In the video, the bear appeared to charge before backing off to follow her cubs.
Marple told Fox News, “I was confused at first, as I couldn’t understand what enticed this man to even consider going towards the bear and her cubs.”
She said fear set in shortly thereafter.
“You can hear myself, my brother and my boyfriend all gasp, as we thought it was going to get bad,” Marple said. “Shock and relief was followed by a feeling of anger because the man did something that could have very well ended bad for himself and the family of bears.”
Dana Soehn, a park spokesperson, told Fox News that visitors need to be aware that bears are wild animals, and can be dangerous or unpredictable, adding that it is illegal to come within 50 yards of them in the park.
Violations can result in fines and arrest, Soehn said.
In a statement sent to Fox News Soehn wrote, “To help us best protect bears in the park, it is critical that people act responsibly during their visit.”
Soehn added that bears should never be fed or approached.
“We work hard to keep bears wild in a space shared with 11.4 million people,” the statement said. “We need each visitor to do their part by always staying at least 50 yards back from bears and properly disposing of food waste - for their safety and that of the bears.”
Soehn said mother bears are extremely protective of their cubs and will aggressively defend them from harm.
“By approaching a mother bear with cubs, visitors are putting themselves and others at risk of injury,” the statement said.