We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

bear sightings

Laurinburg, North...
Level Contributor
77 posts
40 reviews
Save Topic
bear sightings

Are bears getting a little more numerous, getting less afraid of people or was I just really lucky this past week? We were in Gatlinburg July 21st-25th. In this 5 day period we saw seven bears. In Cades Cove we saw 4, Roaring Fork 1, we had a bear turn over a trash can outside our bedroom window at 3:00am (we were staying in Gatlinburg On E. Parkway right off the road) and we had kind of a scary, surprise encounter with a very large one in Mynatt Park. We spoke to a man in the Chimney's picnic area who told us about a bear walking down the strip in downtown Gatlinburg. I'm in my 30's and have been going to Gatlnburg since I can remember. We would get lucky if we saw a bear at all on any of our trips. Has any other frequent visitors feel like they have had more encounters with bears. Maybe with all the growth in the area the bears have less places to go?

Tennessee
Level Contributor
884 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: bear sightings

Consider yourself very lucky! We saw a mama and 2 cubs on Roaring Fork July 4th and a friend saw some in Cades Cove the same day. Many people never see them. There have been numerous reports of bears in the area of Roaring Fork and Mynatt Park over the last few years and of course occasionally people see them in town. Most of my bear sightings have been in Cades Cove or River Rd. coming or going to Cades Cove.

Mississippi
Level Contributor
1,530 posts
21 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: bear sightings

If the City of Gatlinburg would pass and enforce a strict ordinance preventing the careless storage of garbage in traditional containers, and instead, implement the use of critter proof containers, such as the ones you see in the National Park, this problem would be greatly reduced. If there is some sort of ordinance in place, I'm not aware of it.

Indeed, the bear population has grown. Human garbage is easily accessed, and therefore conditions a portion of the bear population to travel into town, instead of foraging in the forest and fields. Some of you probably witnessed the report last week of the bear that got an over-sized jar stuck on his head for a week or so, lost 75 lbs., and was finally fortunate enough to be rescued. It was a miracle that the bear found a way to get water into the jar so that he could drink or he would have died.

The town itself seems to be relatively clean. I don't notice old food smells coming from garbage in town, and don't witness bears rummaging in the day or night when I am there, but there are enough reports here from tourists who witness bears outside of their vacation rentals that makes me suspect that not enough is being done by owners to prevent this potential for disaster between humans and bears.

While I'm not pointing out anyone who still posts on this forum, I have suspected baiting by tourists in the past. It's hard for me to believe that it doesn't occur to folks who are so desperate to see and video a bear that they would put the bear, and others in danger by leaving sugary treats or something else in their garbage.

Anyone caught doing so should be forced to travel the woods for a week with a big jar stuck on their head.

Louisville, Kentucky
Level Contributor
339 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: bear sightings

I don't know if it is a city ordinance or not, but we usually stay in Chalet Village, and every property has bear proof trash containers. They are heavy wire cages, and the "normal" cans are placed inside. This may just be a CV rule, and not to say you don't occasionally see one overflowing or propped open. Most of the mgmt companies we have stayed with also note on their brochures that you can deposit extra trash at their office trash area.

Laurinburg, North...
Level Contributor
77 posts
40 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: bear sightings

The place that we were staying had the bear proof cage around the trash can. The bear never got into the trash, just flip it over trying to get into it.

Chickamauga, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Orlando, Walt Disney World
Level Contributor
41,432 posts
93 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: bear sightings

The park service estimates there are now over 1,500 bears living in the park which equates to two bears for every square mile of park land.

Yes, the bear population continues to grow, but the bears wouldn't necessarily come around populated areas as much if there was better enforcement of the garbage laws.

Tennessee
Level Contributor
884 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: bear sightings

I agree Dawg. When we saw the bears on Roaring Fork it was at one of the bigger pull offs. I don't think that was coincidence. I think the bears are used to getting food from tourists and that was why they were hanging around there.

I also read on a vacation rental that the owners first experience with a bear there was because they left their cooler on the front porch and the bear came right up. Gee I wonder how many people have rented that cabin and left a cooler on the porch hoping for a photo op???

Laurinburg, North...
Level Contributor
77 posts
40 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: bear sightings

I have seen people in the past try to feed bears when it is posted everywhere that you shouldn't feed them. The bear starts to associate food with humans and it almost always ends in the death of the bear. As long as they get their photo, I guess they don't care.

Virginia
Level Contributor
621 posts
66 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: bear sightings

You're very lucky to have seen so many in one trip. We've been going to the area for over twenty years and not had many sightings, but two years ago we saw one in Cades Cove and later in the day saw one right near our cabin in the evening. Once it got dark he did try to get into the trash but the cans were bear proof.

It really makes me angry that people will feed/bait bears just to get a pic of them. And like a previous poster said, the bear is almost always euthanized. And all over the stupidity of some people.

Dayton, Ohio
Level Contributor
475 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: bear sightings

40 years ago it was very common for us to see bears along the road through the Park. People were always stopping to feed them & take their pictures doing so. I've even seen parents urging their child to get next to mama bear & her cubs for a photo op! I think in the late 70's or early 80's bears were moved to higher unpopulated areas of the park. Result- we didn't see bears.

On our last trip in Oct. we saw bears for the first time in years. They were on the outskirts of GB on Roaring Fork Nature Trail. So I conclude that the population has grown or bears have found their way back to civilization.

Tiffin, Ohio
Level Contributor
68 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: bear sightings

I'm like you...I've been going to the Smokies regularly since I was a baby in the late 60's. Seeing a bear to me was like trying to see Bigfoot...lol. Sure, you know they exist, but we just never saw them. Then, last Thursday, we went to Cades Cove around 4pm. Right at the end, we say a mother and 3 cubs. Well, we were so excited that we decided to drive thru the loop again. This time it was a little after 5pm...we ended up seeing a total of 14 bears! They were everywhere and the majority were mothers with cubs. It was an unbelievable day for sure. We also had a bear get into our trash up on Zurich Rd. I guess, according to the guy who runs the trash compactor up there, a mother and cubs living in the Chalet Village area.