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A Virginia woman faces criminal charges after she was seen in a viral video feeding a black bear in Tennessee, local wildlife officials recently announced.

Kristin Hailee Farris, 21, was seen in a video posted to TikTok at the end of September feeding a black bear what appears to be pieces of watermelon among other food items, including chocolate, while on vacation in Gatlinburg, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Association said Friday.

The video, which was shared on TikTok on Sept. 30, shows a woman whom authorities later identified as Farris repeatedly feeding the calm-looking animal, association officials said. As of Monday morning, the clip had garnered more than 542,000 views and 75,400 likes.

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A TikTok-issued warning at the bottom of the video states: “The action in this video could result in serious injury.”

A subsequent video that Farris posted on the social media site on Oct. 10 indicated authorities told her she would not be criminally charged. It was not immediately clear what had changed.

Local news station WVLT reported that Farris, a Danville, Va., resident, was ultimately charged with illegal black bear feeding, a misdemeanor charge that could lead to a $500 fine and a jail sentence of up to six months.

“The overwhelming desire to have a close encounter with a black bear is strangely more powerful than common sense,” Sevier County Wildlife Sgt. David Sexton said, according to the report. “Many people intentionally feed bears with little regard for the dire consequences to the bears and humans they leave behind.”


The TWRA did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request seeking additional information.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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