HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18)– The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is stepping up their patrols, and not just because of the growing bear population in the Commonwealth. Officers are watching out for humans feeding them as well.
"Bears are awesome," said John Hast of the department of fish and wildlife. "They’re fun to watch. People want to have that viewing opportunity more often."
And that’s causing concern for the department, especially in Harlan and Letcher counties where a "bear market" is rising.
"It’s become an area where people are going and setting up and providing food for viewing opportunities," Hast said.
Wildlife officers say warnings to these "bear spotters" are not working, and as a result they could face a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
There’s a potential cost for the bear too.
"A bear gets used to human food, it becomes dangerous," Hast said. "They start approaching cars, approaching people. There’s a number of Facebook videos of bears approaching people."
Officers will have choice but to euthanize, so they’re encouraging the public to think twice before approaching bears.