It’s that time of year again!
The black bears are out in full swing and many of our employees and guests have reported spotting these furry creatures roaming the park and even around our properties.
Black bears are very common in the Smokies. In fact, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in Eastern United States where black bears can live in wild, natural surroundings. You can find black bears in all elevations of the park. Although, the populations fluctuate each year, biologists estimate that roughly 1,500 bears live in the park! That’s approximately two bears per square mile!
Because Gatlinburg is right at the edge of the National Park, it’s not uncommon for our guests to have one visit at the chalets. Bears have a very keen sense of smell that leads them to find insects, nuts and berries. However, they are also enticed by the smells of human food and garbage such as chips, apple cores, hamburgers and hot dogs which are usually left in picnic areas, campgrounds, and private resident areas near the park. Feeding the bears or allowing them access to human food causes a number of problems:
It changes the bear’s behavior and causes them to lose their instinctive fear of humans. This type of behavior causes the bear to become more unpredictable and dangerous.
Bears that obtain human food and garbage are not only dangerous to people but they also can do a significant amount of damage to properties. We always warn our guests at check in to keep food out of their cars and lock the car doors. These bears are extremely smart and have learned how to open unlocked car doors and do some major damages to the interior of vehicles. In addition, the bears pass these bad habits on to their cubs which can sadly result in euthanization.
Bears who depend on garbage and human food don’t live as long as bears who feet on natural foods. Not only is the food terrible for them, but they are at a higher risk of being hit by cars or easy targets for poachers.
Please remember never to feed the bears. They are cute (watch the video below) and very cool to see, however they are dangerous and no picture is worth putting yourself or the bear at any risk.