About the Bears


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(Ask for Gatlinburg Getaway)

Gatlinburg Getaway is located in close proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Many wild animals have been sited near the cabin, including:  Black Bears, Bobcats, Gray Foxes, Coyotes, Deer, Owls, Woodchucks, Rabbits, Raccoons, Opossums, Grouse, Turtles, Squirrels, Skunks, Turkey, and Chipmunks.

Black Bear Just Outside the Cabin

(Photo by Philip D'Antonio, Gatlinburg Getaway©)

Bears are wild animals that are dangerous and unpredictable.  Do not approach bears or allow them to approach you!

Do not feed the Bears or any other wildlife!  It's the Law.
Do not leave food outside.
Do not leave food in your car.
Do not approach the bears or allow them to approach you.
Do not feed birds.  Bird seed spillage attracts bears.
Dispose of garbage in bear-proof garbage containers, locking down lid.
Never over fill garbage containers, contact Jackson Mountain if full.
Remove food from grilling area immediately after use.
Never get between a bear and her cubs.

YouTube Video of a Black Bear Just Outside the Cabin

(Video by Philip D'Antonio, Gatlinburg Getaway©)


What to do if approached by a bear:

Never run from a bear, the bear may consider you as prey!

Bears in the area are wild and their behavior is sometimes unpredictable. Although extremely rare, attacks on humans have occurred, inflicting serious injuries and death.  Treat bear encounters with extreme caution and follow these guidelines:

If you see a bear remain watchful.  Do not approach it.

If your presence causes the bear to change its behavior (stops feeding, changes its travel direction, watches you, etc.) - you're too close.  Being too close may promote aggressive behavior from the bear such as running toward you, making loud noises, or swatting the ground.  The bear is demanding more space.

Don't run, but slowly back away, watching the bear.  Try to increase the distance between you and the bear.  The bear will probably do the same.  If a bear persistently follows or approaches you, without vocalizing, or paw swatting, change your direction.

If the bear continues to follow you, stand your ground.  If the bear gets closer, talk loudly or shout at it. Act aggressively to intimidate the bear.  Act together as a group if you have companions.  Make yourselves look as large as possible (for example, move to higher ground).  Throw non-food objects such as rocks at the bear.  Use a deterrent such as a stout stick.

Don't run and don't turn away from the bear.  Don't leave food for the bear; this encourages further problems.  Most injuries from black bear attacks are minor and result from a bear attempting to get at people's food.

If the bear's behavior indicates that it is after your food and you're physically attacked, separate yourself from the food and slowly back away.

If the bear shows no interest in your food and you're physically attacked, fight back aggressively with any available object - the bear may consider you as prey!

The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus):

Bears over 600 pounds have been documented in the park.  Bears can live 12-15 years or more, however bears which have had access to human foods and garbage have a life expectancy of only half that time.  Bears, like humans, are omnivores.  Plant materials such as berries and nuts make up approximately 85% of their diet.  Insects and animal carrion provide valuable sources of protein for bears. 

Bears are most active during early morning and late evening hours in spring and summer.   Bears have color vision and a keen sense of smell.  In addition, they are good tree climbers, can swim very well, and can run 30 miles per hour.  They are an opportunistic feeder, which means that they will eat any food they find available, including people’s garbage. 

Black bears are not true hibernators.  During their winter dormant period they will sleep for very long periods.  This is referred to as "winter sleep".  They do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate during this time.  They may leave their den during warming periods or if they are disturbed.

Bears choose a denning site with the coming of cold weather.  Dens are usually hollow stumps, tree cavities, or wherever there is shelter.  Bears in the Smokies are unusual, in that they often den high above the ground in standing hollow trees. 

One to four cubs are born during the mother's winter sleep, usually in late January or early February.  Bears weigh eight ounces at birth.  Females with newly born cubs usually emerge from their winter dens in late March or early April.  Commonly born in pairs, the cubs will remain with the mother for about eighteen months or until she mates again.

There are approximately 1,700 - 1,800 black bears living in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park which is a population density of about 2 black bear per square mile.  Black bears inhabit and are active in all areas and elevations of the park.

The Law:

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission Proclamation - Feeding of Black Bears Prohibited Pursuant to the authority granted by the Title 70, Tennessee code Annotated, and Sections 70-1-302 and 70-5-101 thereof, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency hereby proclaims the following regulations pertaining to the feeding of black bears

Sections I.  Black Bear Feeding Prohibited:  It is unlawful to intentionally or knowingly feed a black bear or intentionally or knowingly leave food or garbage in a manner that attracts bears. It is also unlawful to engage in any indirect of incidental feeding of bears if the activity occurs after the notice from either the City of Gatlinburg or a law enforcement officer thereof or from an employee of the Tennessee Wildlife resources Agency to the person responsible for such indirect or incidental feeding. Such notification shall include the type of activity which is prohibited. Further such activity by the responsible person after notice shall be a violation of this section.

Section II. Areas Closed to the Feeding of Black Bears For the purpose of this proclamation, areas closed to the feeding of bears include the Corporate Limits of the City of Gatlinburg and Chalet Village North Subdivision, as posted. A more complete description may be found on file in the office of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in Nashville, Tennessee.

Penalty.  Violation of this law is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and 6 months in jail.

Why Feeding Bears and Garbage Kills Bears:

The bear's keen sense of smell leads it to insects, nuts and berries, but the animal is also enticed by the tantalizing smells of human food and garbage such as hot dogs, apple cores, chips, and watermelon rinds left on the ground in picnic areas, campgrounds, and along trails.

Feeding bears or allowing them access to human food and garbage causes a number of problems:

It changes the bear's behavior and causes them to lose their instinctive fear of humans.  Over time, these bears may begin approaching people in search of food and may become more unpredictable and dangerous.  Bears that obtain human food and garbage damage property and injure people.  These bears pose a risk to public safety.  They can also teach other bears this dangerous behavior.  Often, they must be euthanized.  Studies have shown that bears that lose their fear of people by obtaining human food and garbage never live as long as bears that feed on natural foods and are shy and afraid of people.  Many are hit by cars and become easy targets for poachers.  For these reasons, park rangers issue citations for littering, feeding bears, and for improper food storage.  These citations can result in fines of up to $5,000 and jail sentences lasting up to six months.  Visitors are urged to view all wildlife at a safe distance and to never throw food or garbage on the ground or leave it unattended.  Garbage Kills Bears!

Bears are Active in the Area! - Pictures of Black Bears Taken from the Deck of the Cabin

(Photos by Michele D'Antonio, Gatlinburg Getaway©)

Bears are Active in the Area! - Pictures of Black Bears Taken from the Deck of the Cabin

(Photos by Michele D'Antonio, Gatlinburg Getaway©)

YouTube Video of a Black Bear Just Outside the Cabin

(Video by Philip D'Antonio, Gatlinburg Getaway©)



Gatlinburg Getaway Mascot

(Located at the entrance of the cabin is our full size bear carved from a single tree©)



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