One of East Tennessee’s and here in the Smokies great attractions is the chance to see a black bear in the wild. People come from near and far with the hope of seeing one of these bears and other wildlife as this area holds the greatest bear population in the entire state.
Mother & Cub
On top of that viewing them in the wild is free as The Great Smoky Mountain National Park has no admission fees. That’s right; you can drive through Cades Cove, the Roaring Fork, all over the park and only have to pay for your fuel. Sadly foolish, uneducated, and uncaring tourists are ruining the chance for you and your family to observe these bears.
A recent report by Knoxville WBIR TV News brought to light that poor behavior by certain tourists is harming these bears leading to their removal or even causing the need for certain bears to be killed. They reported how tourists fed a female black bear and her three cubs in Cades Cove causing them to become “Nuisance Bears”. This forced the park service to capture and relocate the mother bear and her cubs 40 miles from the area. The article goes on to tell of a bear having to be euthanized in 2010 because of it approaching hikers in the Laurel Falls area wanting food.
Full WBIR News Article
The WBIR article also reported on the story in Country Magazine where the lady bragged about approaching an angry mother bear and her cubs in Cades Cove to get that “photographic treasure”. Thankfully enough public backlash caused the magazine to retract the story.
Cub in tree eating berries
The law states you must stay back 50 yards and may not disturb or displace these animals. Visitors can be arrested and fined for violating this law. Bring a zoom lens and stay back. Don’t feed the bears! Keep your distance, stay safe and keep them safe.
Black Bear Safety Tips
The Three Bears General Store has opened in downtown Pigeon Forge at the site of the original Three Bears Gift Shop destroyed by fire in September of last year. Still owned by the owners of the original store, the Three Bears General Store has many of the same items and services along with some new and updates offerings except for the bears.
The bears, who were saved from last falls fire by local firefighters, will return sometime in August. A new 5,000 square foot habitat is near completion to house the bears. The design of the new habitat is a combination of ideas from various zoos that includes natural elements and an improved cleaning system to keep the habitat clean and healthy for the bears.
Due to a continued bear problem park rangers have closed the Abrams Falls Trail in Cades Cove for the second time this month. Park officials stated that they do not plan to reopen the very popular trail in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park until the black bear can be tracked or caught. The park service’s web site has updates on road and facilities closures.
This spring in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park there have been many instances of nuisance bear activity. The popular Abrams Falls Trail was closed for a day this past week due to two reports of a black bear becoming aggressive towards hikers.
Some shelters and backcountry campsites are currently closed and bear warning signs have been posted at many shelters and trails including the Abrams Falls Trail. The nuisance bears have been a particular concern in the popular Cades Cove area.
The Nation Park Service web site has a very interesting article on Black Bears that has safety guidelines if you encounter a bear. Visitors may wish to check at the parks visitor centers or ranger stations before hiking or camping for further information.