Gatlinburg tourist that fed bear in viral TikTok video facing charges

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. — A woman who made a TikTok video showing her feeding a black bear is facing charges of illegal black bear feeding.

Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officers on Friday charged Kristin Hailee Farris, 21, of Danville, Virginia. In a Sept. 30 video Farris is seen in the social media video hand feeding what appears to be watermelon, chocolate and other foods to a black bear.

“The overwhelming desire to have a close encounter with a black bear is strangely more powerful than common sense,” Sevier County TWRA Sgt. David Sexton said. “Many people intentionally feed bears with little regard for the dire consequences to the bears and humans they leave behind.”  

The crime is a Class B misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

The law, created in 2000, prohibits anyone to feed a black bear or leave food or garbage in a manner that attracts bears.

The regulation applies to a 6-square-mile area of Gatlinburg and is intended to create a buffer zone to deter bears from going further into the city if they aren’t fed or can’t get into garbage.

The video is still live on TikTok and has been viewed more than 500,000 times.

Farris is required to return to Sevier County for booking.

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