Black Bear Safety Tips You Need To Know

As your family makes the trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you may be excited to plan your hike, make a trip through Cades Cove, or just enjoy a drive. We recommend all these activities however, with these adventures comes the possibility of coming in contact with so many different species of animals. As exciting as it can be, it can also become very dangerous! Don’t worry we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you out in case this happens so you and your family can enjoy the adventure while remaining as safe as possible!

As we say goodbye to spring and enter into the summer months, we also approach mating season for black bears in the park. The bears are usually most active in the mornings and also late at night, but if you find yourself coming across the path of a bear during any time of the day here’s what you need to know.

What To Do If You See A Bear:

  • Be cautious of your surroundings at all times.
  • DO NOT approach the bear.
  • Approaching a bear within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs the bear, is illegal in the park.
  • If a bear sees you and begins to change behavior, you are most likely too close.
  • DO NOT feed the bears- this can cause their behavior towards you to change. Bear behavior can be wild and unpredictable.

What to Do If A Bear Approaches:

  • Walk in a different direction- be cautious if the bear follows.
  • If the bear follows and becomes close, shout at it.
  • Act aggressive to intimidate the bear.
  • Throw things at the bear- do not use food!
  • Never turn your back on the bear.
  • Do not run- bears can run at speeds up to 30 mph.

The exact amount of bears that inhabit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in unknown since they live in all elevations, however it is estimated that around 1,500 bears live inside the park limits. This makes being cautious of your surrounds that much more important. If traveling in your car, do not get out to get closer to the bears. For you and your family’s safety, it is best to stay inside.

For more information on black bear safety during your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please visit the National Park Service website here: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/black-bears.htm

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