Park visitor gets dangerously close to mother bear and cubs

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CADES COVE, Tenn. (WVLT) - (7/15/2019) - Video shows what appears to be a man confronting a mother bear and her cubs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee on Saturday.

Paige Marple was in Cades Cove with her boyfriend and brother when they noticed the mother and cubs. Marple said they stayed in their truck and watched from a distance as the man approached the bear.

"It was pretty intense for a second because I just knew he was going to end up in a body bag," Marple said. "How he didn't is beyond me."

In the video, the bear appears to lunge at the man and he backs off. The bear and three cubs then continue across the street and into the woods.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park wants visitors to be aware that bears are wild animals and can be dangerous or unpredictable. It's illegal to come within 50 yards of bears in the park, and violations can result in fines and arrests.

"All I want is for people to understand that they need to stay in their vehicles and away from these animals," Marple said. "If they are approaching you in your vehicle stay put and leave them be. This is their home and their habitat."

Marple said she took the video around 3 p.m. Saturday, July 13.

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