21 Mar 2020
Bears, bears everywhere!
This year has been a year of bears. Recently, the Great Smoky Mountain’s National Park Service issued a park alert of increased bear activity. Although these furry creatures appear cute and cuddly, it’s important to keep in mind that they are wild and unpredictable animals.
Reports of these furry visitors continue to come in on a daily basis. It’s not uncommon for these bears to roam the yards of the chalets and peer right into the window.
Although these animals are very cute and much fun to see, it’s extremely important that we do our part to respect their environment and to avoid potentially dangerous situations. The number one and most important rule is,
Do Not Feed the Bears!
Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountain National Park issues citations for feeding bears and for improper food storage? Feeding the bears and improperly disposing food can result of up to a $5,000 fine, and jail sentences up to six months! Garbage kills bears and feeding them or allowing access to human food causes a number of problems. Problems include:
- Changing a bear’s behavior and ability to survive on their own causes them to lose their instinctive fear of humans. A bear that is not afraid of humans is a huge problem because they become more unpredictable and dangerous.
- They damage property. Bears have a very keen sense of smell and are enticed by food left on picnic tables. They’ve learned how to open car doors and have even been reported to almost walk right into a home! It’s important to note during your visit to the mountains to:
- Make sure all car windows are completely closed and doors locked.
- Do not leave food or food wrappers inside the car
- Keep all exterior house doors closed
- Do not leave trash or drink containers on the outside decks
- Secure all trash in provided trash can bins.
- Feeding bears transforms them from wild and healthy bears into habitual beggars. These types of bears don’t live as long as wild bears. Many are hit by cars and become easy targets for poachers. Beggar bears may die from ingesting food packaging which is usually a slow and agonizing death.
Although the bears usually pay no mind to people, they should never be approached under any circumstances. It’s tempting to want to capture a “bear selfie” for Instagram, but no amount of likes is worth putting a life in danger.
The bears are what help make The Smokies so special. Our advice is to please respect bears’ territory and in return, they will respect yours.