The possibility of seeing a black bear on your Pigeon Forge vacation is probably one of the most exciting things about visiting the Great Smoky Mountains. These impressive animals, while beautiful and majestic from a distance, can be very dangerous and even deadly if not treated with respect. This blog will help you identify some characteristics of black bears and will provide you with tips on how to make your bear encounters safe!
To begin with, vacationers must understand that black bears are wild animals, not cute and cuddly like the stuffed animals that everyone no doubt clutched as a child. These bears are, on average, five feet tall when standing and can weigh up to four hundred pounds – larger than some female grizzly bears!
Are you encountering a bear from the porch of your Pigeon Forge cabin, or are you crossing a bear’s path on your Pigeon Forge camping trip? These tips will help protect you, your family and the bears!
- Never ever store food near your tent or outside your cabin rental. Bears have a strong sense of smell and will investigate any strong odors, including bug repellent and soap. Store your food in airtight containers or tie your products up 10 feet from the ground.
- Keep your cabin and camp area clean and tidy. Cabin rentals are required to have bear-proof garbage cans – take your trash to the container instead of leaving it on your porch or balcony. Dispose of any dishes and wipe down any outdoor surfaces you used during cooking.
Hiking and Camping
- Travel in groups, which are louder and allows bears to hear you from farther away. Bears do not often want to interact with humans and will avoid an encounter at any cost.
- Leave your pooch at home – bears may be aggravated or angered by barking or whining animals.
Dealing with an Encounter
- Above all, remain calm and DO NOT RUN!
- If a bear is too close for comfort, back away slowly and wait for the bear to retreat on it’s own.
- Let the bear know that you are a human, not prey! Talk in a normal volume of voice and use arm gestures to deter it.
Dealing with an Attack
- Get loud! Yell and waive your arms and have some sort of defensive object in your hand, whether it’s a water bottle or can of pepper spray.
- Fight back with your hands, feet, anything you have. Hike with pepper spray and begin spraying as soon as the bear demonstrates aggression and heads in your direction.
- If you spot cubs with the attacking bear, the mother is probably defending her babies and will fight to the death. Your best bet in a mother and cub situation is to play dead and wait for the bear to retreat.
Rest assured on your Pigeon Forge cabin vacation that black bear attacks are very rare and often non-fatal – in fact, there have only been three fatal black bear attacks since 2010 and none in the Smoky Mountains.
More often than not, black bears are gentle creatures that amble across your path unexpectedly and politely go on their way. Head to Pigeon Forge with your camera in hand and hopes of getting an incredible shot of wildlife in the Smokies.