Farris, 21, shared a video of herself feeding the wild animal straight from her hand on TikTok. The clip has been viewed more than half a million times. TikTok put a disclaimer on the clip warning that the “action in this video could result in serious injury.”
Wildlife officials were not amused by the clip and have charged Farris with a misdemeanor. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced that Farris was ordered to return to Sevier County to face consequences. As of this writing, inmate and court records suggest Farris, who lives in Danville, Virginia, had not yet turned herself in.
Here’s what you need to know:
Farris Fed the Black Bear Watermelon & Chocolate While Someone Else Filmed
Farris shared the clip of herself feeding a black bear to Tiktok on September 30. The video alternates between footage shot from Farris’ point-of-view as well as footage recorded from behind her on the deck. As of this writing, the video was still live on TikTok.
Farris wrote in the caption of the video, “I’m that crazy redneck girl ya mama always told you about.” She inserted the song “Different ‘Round Here” by Riley Green over the clip.
Farris fed the animal watermelon, chocolate and other human food straight from her hand, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Sevier County Wildlife Sgt. David Sexton expressed bewilderment in a news release announcing that Farris would face a misdemeanor violation. “The overwhelming desire to have a close encounter with a black bear is strangely more powerful than common sense,” Sexton said. “Many people intentionally feed bears with little regard for the dire consequences to the bears and humans they leave behind.”
Farris is the mother of a toddler and has a boyfriend, according to her TikTok and Facebook accounts. It’s unclear based on Farris’ videos whether the whole family was in Gatlinburg or if she visited the state with other friends.
Farris Could Face 6 Months Behind Bars for Illegal Black Bear Feeding
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has decided to charge Farris with “Illegal Black Bear Feeding,” which is a Class B misdemeanor. The organization explained in a news release that the charge carries a maximum punishment of up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $500.
In Sevier County, residents and visitors are barred from feeding black bears or leaving food out “in a manner that attracts bears.” This rule also applies within the city of Gatlinburg and has been in place since 2000, WVLT-TV reported.
The state agency details on its website that rules prohibiting people from feeding bears were put in place to protect both the animals and humans. Based on the agency’s explanation, Farris was putting the black bear’s life in danger as well as her own:
The age-old adages: GARBAGE KILLS BEARS and A FED BEAR IS A DEAD BEAR could not be truer. Nationwide bear management experience has clearly shown that bears attracted to human food sources, or that are deliberately fed by humans, have a relatively short life.
The survival rate of bears receiving food from people is likely a fraction of that of wild bears that do not have repeated contact with humans. The deliberate and accidental feeding of bears is socially irresponsible and causes animals to become conditioned and habituated to people.
Bears that habituate to human presence eventually become a threat to human safety. The end result is that such bears are often killed by intolerant and/or fearful landowners or have to be destroyed by the TWRA.
Farris Shared on October 10 That She Was Not Expecting to Face Repercussions for Feeding the Black Bear
Farris received some backlash online after sharing the video of herself feeding the black bear. She posted a video on October 10 that showed a conversation she had with another TikTok user. The critic threatened to “personally drag” Farris if she returned to Gatlinburg and said she would “personally escort your stupid a**” to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Farris responded that she had already spoken with wildlife officials. She wrote, “I am having no charges so your [sic] wasting your time sweetheart but I’ll pray for you and your kind.”
The critic wrote back, “You pray for my kind? The kind that doesn’t go to other people’s towns and disrespects their wildlife and put other people and the animals there at risk?” Farris wrote back, “LMAO no the kind that threatens to beat a strange [sic].”