What's one of the best things about living in the Smokies?
Why the Black Bears of course!
Photo Creds: Craig Johnston
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to about 1,500 Black Bears. It is one of the largest, protected habitats for black bears in the world. During the summer a typical male bear will weigh 250 pounds and female around 100 pounds. However, in the fall their weight increases dramatically as they prepare for winter. Bears over 600 pounds have been reported. A typical bear lives for around 15 years, but sadly those that have become accustomed to people food may only live half that time. Bears are like people. They like both plants and animals. The majority of their diet comes from plants, but they do enjoy some tasty insects! Did you know that bears can swim? They are excellent swimmers, tree climbers, and runners. Also, their sense of smell is great and they see in color.
The bears are the most active in the morning and evenings during spring and summer. They mate during the summer and can have multiple mates in one season. A hibernation myth is that our bears sleep all winter. They do not. They will find a den in the fall and will sleep for long periods of time during the winter. However, during warm spells they will wake up.
Photo Creds: Jenn Lyn
While the black bears are gorgeous creatures to observe, it is important to remember that they are wild and unpredictable animals. You should always remain at least 50 feet away from wild animals. Do not approach the bears or allow the bears to approach you. If a bear does approach you simply back away slowly while making loud noises. You can act aggressively to intimidate the bear. Never turn your back on the bear or run from the bear.
Photo creds: Top Photo-Lisa Brogdon Bottom Photo: Jodi Harash