BRISTOL, TN  (WLAF) – TWRA wildlife officers are investigating a reported bear encounter that occurred at an undeveloped campsite on South Holston Lake in Sullivan Co.

Wildlife officers say that Mr. Matt Marvin of Abingdon, VA was camping at an undeveloped campsite along South Holston Lake across the lake from the 421 Access Area.  During the early morning hours of July 5, Mr. Marvin was asleep in a hammock when he says he was awakened by a bear biting his foot.  Mr. Marvin reports that he defended himself by shooting at the bear.

Around 10 p.m., Mr. Marvin reported the incident to Washington Co., VA 911 and contacted TWRA on July 6 at approximately 4 p.m. to report this incident.  Mr. Marvin provided a picture of the injury showing a small wound to the heel of his foot.  TWRA has investigated the campsite and has not located a dead or injured bear or any sign of a dead or injured bear.  Wildlife officers did however document a lot of human foods left behind at the campsite.  TVA is posting a warning about bear activity in the area.

As of last night, Mr. Marvin told investigating officers that he had not sought medical attention but plans on getting the minor injury looked at.

While camping, take special precautions to reduce bear encounters:

  • Do not store food in your tent.
  • Cook 100 yards from your tent.
  • Clean the cooking area thoroughly.
  • Don’t sleep in the clothes you wore when cooking.
  • Store food, trash, lotions, toothpaste, and deodorant in a hardtop vehicle with windows closed and doors locked OR a bear-resistant container OR suspended in a tree 100 yards from sleeping area.

To see an illustration about properly storing foods while camping and to learn more about reducing bear-human interactions, visit

The incident remains under investigation by TWRA.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 07/07/2020-2PM)