Kristin Hailee Farris, 21, of Danville, Virginia, was recorded on a viral TikTok video hand-feeding what seemed to be watermelon, chocolate and other treats to the wild animal in Gatlinburg in late September this year, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Association stated on Friday this week.
As reported by news station WVLT, the video had been viewed about 500,000 times.
Charges were filed against Kristin for illegal black bear feeding, wildlife officials said regulations forbid people from feeding bears or leaving food in garbage cans during a manner that draws them.
The rule applies to a six-mile radius around Gatlinburg and is meant to discourage the beasts from entering the town. If convicted, she faces up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.
“The overwhelming desire to possess an in-depth encounter with a black bear is strangely more powerful than sense,” said Sevier County Wildlife Sgt. David Sexton during a statement.
“Many people intentionally feed bears with little regard for the dire consequences to the bears and humans they leave behind.”