Tourist busted for feeding black bear in viral video

Virginia woman could serve up to six months in jail after clip of her illegally feeding the wild animal in Tennessee clocks up half a million views.

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still from the viral video showing the woman offering the bear a piece of watermelon
A TikTok video of the woman feeding the bear treats including watermelon has been viewed more than 500,000 times.
(TikTok)

If you must do something dumb, try not to do it on camera.

A Virginia woman who ignored that time-honored wisdom was busted after she was seen in a viral TikTok video feeding a black bear while on vacation in Tennessee late last month.

Kristin Hailee Farris, 21, of Danville, was filmed hand-feeding what looks like watermelon, chocolate and other snacks to the wild animal in Gatlinburg on September 30, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Association (TWRA) said Friday.

She has since been charged with illegal black bear feeding thanks in no small part to the clip, which has been viewed more than 500,000 times, news station WVLT reported.

TWRA officers pointed to regulations in place since 2000 which prohibit the feeding of bears or leaving food in garbage cans in a manner that might attract them.

The rule covers a six-mile radius around Gatlinburg and is intended to discourage the animals from entering the city.

If convicted, Farris faces up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for the Class B Misdemeanor.

“The overwhelming desire to have a close encounter with a black bear is strangely more powerful than common sense,” Sevier County Wildlife Sgt. David Sexton said in a statement.

“Many people intentionally feed bears with little regard for the dire consequences to the bears and humans they leave behind.”

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