Sunday, October 17, 2010

Black Bears in Gatlinburg & the Smoky Mountains

American Black Bears are prevalent on the Appalachian Trail, as well as the Great Smoky Mountains.  Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the few places remaining in the eastern United States where black bears can live in wild, natural surroundings. For many, this famous Smokies’ resident is a symbol of wilderness. Bears inhabit all elevations of the park. Though populations are variable, counts conducted in 2006 indicated approximately 1,500 bears live in the park. This equals a population density of approximately two bears per square mile. At one time, the black bear’s range included most of North America except the extreme west coast. Because of the loss of habitat, the black bear is now confined to wooded areas or dense brushland.

Many tourists to the Gatlinburg area go to Cades Cove to attempt to view Black Bears.  Other travellers have also mentioned seeing black bears on their roadways or trails surrounding their vacation cabin rentals (based on some renters from the Aunt Bug's Cabin Rental Company).  Of course, it is always safer to view the Bears from your car, than on foot.  Be sure to make sure not to have traces of food in the surrounding area at all time when bears are prevalant.  Never provoke a bear, especially near its mother.  Most campers or tourists can view bears in peace, but be careful as they can be dangerous when hungry or provoked.  Sometimes the Black bears come into the town of Gatlinburg to rob dumpsters of food remnants when they are hungry.  This is an especially dangerous time to approach a bear.  Use extreme caution when seeing a bear.  Never feed or antagonize a black bear.  Efforts to restore bear populations in Tennessee have resulted in more frequent bear sightings both inside and outside of the National Park.  Park Rangers are saying that in 2009, there have been more bear sightings since the park service started keeping records in 1981.

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