All About the Bears of the Smoky Mountains

Black Bears of the Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the biggest protected areas in the USA where black bears live in the wild in their natural habit. There are bears living throughout the park, and biologists estimate that the population is around 1,500, which means there is an average of two bears every square mile.

smoky mountain bears

Black Bears

Bears are beautiful and intriguing creatures and seeing one is an unforgettable experience. Some of the best places to see bears are along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, the Little River Auto Tour and the 11-mile loop around Cades Cove. However, they can also be dangerous if they are threatened and they decide to attack ñ so make sure that you give them plenty of space and do not approach them.

Fascinating Bear Facts

  • Black bears in the Smokies are almost always black, but in other areas of the country they can be cinnamon colored or brown.
  • The habitat of the black bear ranges from far north in Canada all the way down to Mexico and Central America.
  • The black bear typically eats bees, moths, termites, berries, honey, fruit, acorns and. They will also scavenge for carrion.
  • Black bears are typically solitary animals who forage alone, except for mothers with their cubs.

What To Do If You See A Bear In The Wild

Remember that bears are wild animals and their behavior can be unpredictable. Treat then with extreme caution and do not approach them. Avoid leaving food out as this will attract bears and dispose of all food scraps and garbage in a bear proof garbage container.

pigeon forge bears

A good guideline is that if your presence causes the bear to change its behavior (i.e.: it begins to watch you, stops feeding, or changes direction), then you are too close. If the bear starts to move toward you or make noise, slowly back away and increase the distance between yourself and the bear will likely do the same. Black bears will only attack humans if they feel threatened or if they are protecting their cubs. If the bear gets closer, you can shout at it and act aggressively to intimidate it. Throw rocks and move to higher ground to appear larger. Don't turn and run away. Do not play dead and if the bear attacks try to fight back with any available object.

Appalachian Bear Rescue

The Appalachian Bear Rescue is a center designed to help black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains. Itís located in Townsend, Tennessee and it takes in orphaned and injured young black bears and takes care of them until they are healthy enough to be released back into the wild. Their goal is to get the bears healthy as quickly as possible and then release them, so that the bears do not get habituated to living around humans, which could cause problems for them in the future. You can learn more about Appalachian Bear Rescue at their website.

We've been following the story of Finnegan the black bear, in the care of Appalachian Bear Rescue. You can read the story of some of these rescued bears here.