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250-pound bear caught on video nuzzling and kissing camera outside Tennessee home

An overly friendly 250-pound bear was caught this week on film nuzzling and pressing its lips affectionately to a security camera outside a home near Gatlinburg in east Tennessee.

The bizarre 30-second video, posted on Facebook, shows the bear sniff the camera, lick it, then move in for a kiss. The focus goes in and out, but the video appears to show an extreme closeup of those supple lips pressed to the lens at around the 12-second mark.

It remains unclear if the bear was a good kisser.

Dennis Buckingham of Louisville, Kentucky, says the moment was captured Tuesday night outside his vacation cabin 10 miles from Gatlinburg.

“I laughed when I saw it. He’s having fun and could have swallowed it (the camera) if he wanted,” Buckingham told the McClatchy news group.

“That bear is about three years old and like a nosy teenager. I guess he was trying to figure out if the camera was something he could eat. It has a light on it, and he must have set it off and that’s what attracted him. They are curious and very intelligent animals.”

They’re also shamelessly goofy, he added.

“A year ago, the cameras went off and I stepped out of the entry way and 15 feet away from me was a yearling, licking the bugs off the bumper of our cars,” he told McClatchy. “In another case, we had a 350-pound mama bear sit in the yard scratching her belly, with no concern about humans.”

Buckingham, a retired PNC banker, said he posted cameras around the cabin as a way to see what types of wildlife were circling the area when he was away. The results have far exceeded what he imagined.

In addition to plenty of bear and deer, the cameras have revealed bobcats, foxes, ground hogs and skunks.

His video is the latest in a series of crazy bear antics recently recorded in the mountains that separate North Carolina and Tennessee, including videos of bears licking living room windows and sleeping in hammocks strung up behind homes. Bears have also become famously skilled at breaking into vehicles in search of food, by using their claws and teeth to open car doors.

The video of the bear kissing the camera was posted Wednesday on Facebook by former North Carolinian Tony Morton, who owns a share of the vacation cabin.

“The first time I saw the video I thought, ‘Dang is he gonna eat our camera?’” Morton said. “The bears are going through hyperphagia (abnormally increased appetite) now .... a constant hunger before hibernation. .... I guess we’re lucky the camera didn’t taste good.”

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.
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