Here are some interesting facts about the bears in the great smoky mountains national park that you may not be aware of. But first here is the official law concerning people and bears.
“Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces a bear, is illegal in the park. Violation of this federal regulation can result in fines and arrest. Use binoculars, telephoto lens, or a spotting scope to view the animals.” They also have severe fines for feeding the bears as well.
They estimate that there are over 1500 bears within the boundaries of the Park. That works out to about two bears for every square mile. That is a lot of bears! The great smoky mountains national park is one of very few places in America where bears are still allowed to roam around wild. And the bear has remained the symbol of the park since it’s beginnings.
Bears can be found throughout the park and in wooded area’s near the park (if your cabin is in the woods – that means there too!) The smoky mountain bears are all black in color and can range in weight from 100 pounds to as big as 600 pounds! The largest bears can be six feet long and stand a good three feet off the ground at the shoulder. Add them together and you have a nine-foot bear when he’s standing on his hind legs! A bears life expectancy will vary depending mostly on if someone has been feeding him. A wild bear will live to as old as 15. But a bear who has learned to look for a hand out will on average only live half that long. (no doubt because they become a hazard to humans that the rangers will be forced to eliminate)
The black bear has a diet similar to ours – he eats meat as well as his vegetables, no wonder he gets to be so big eh? Nuts, berries, bugs and others are all on his diet. These bears can see colors, are good swimmers, can climb trees, keens sense of smell and hoof it at over thirty miles an hour! Now think of yourself hiking through the woods with a roast beef sandwich in your backpack… ummm, might be a good time to give you our link to “What to do if you run into a bear in the woods”!
What the bears do-
Smoky Mountain Bears are unique in that many of them will den high up in hollow trees. As soon as cold weather comes on they will start looking of a comfortable place to shelter and sleep a good part of the winter away. (you got to admire them for that!) Now mother will have her cubs usually in January while she is hibernating. She can have from one to four cubs but usually has only a pair. They weigh less than a pound at birth and will stay with mother for as long as eighteen months. Now, the mother will generally wake up around the end of March or early in April. This is when she is not to be messed with the most. See this article on New Bear Regulations. During the spring and summer bears are most active in the mornings and evenings. So if you’re going to do some hiking or if your sightseeing for bears, take note.
You can learn more about our Great Smoky Mountain Black Bears by contacting the National Parks Systems web site or the Park Rangers local office.
For information on finding a cabin near the park you may contact us at Smoky Mountain Golden Cabins! Or by calling 865-202-7657.