The Great Smoky Mountains has a lot of attractions to offer, but in it’s rawest true form, the biggest draw to the Smokies is nature itself. The mountains, the trees, the ever changing landscapes and leaf colors are just some of natures gifts here. However, there is another facet to the nature in these mountains, and that is the wildlife. The wildlife here are wonders to behold. Unfortunately, with that wonder, comes danger and unforeseen consequences that are intensified, with the lack of knowledge and care, by human interaction.
One of the biggest issues with human to bear interaction are peoples need to feed or set out food to draw the bears in. This poses a substantial issue. When a bear starts to learn to look to people for their source of food, that can lead to an increased risk for a bear attack or injury to the bear or human. Unfortunately, when a bear harms a human, the bear is at a very high risk for being euthanized. So, always remember, these are wild animals and a fed bear can end up being a dead bear!
Do NOT attempt to get close to bear cubs. Bears are again, wild animals. They will protect their young, just as you would. By attempting to get close to a bear you are putting yourself and others at a terrible risk. This again, is putting the bear at risk, in the event of an attack or even if increased aggression occurred.
Sometimes humans increase these risks unknowingly. It can seem like an innocent mistake to leave a cooler with food out on the porch, or forget to secure the trash. However, both of these things can increase the risk for a bear to come too close to humans. Please make sure that you are not leaving food out. Also, make sure that you are securing trash in the provided outside receptacles.
Another unknowingly simple mistake is leaving your vehicle unlocked. Bears are extremely smart and when a vehicle is left unlocked, with food, trash, etc., a bear can open the door or find its way in. An open sunroof, a rolled down window, or an unlocked door, is an open invitation to the near by bears. Once a bear is in the vehicle they can also become trapped inside if the door closes behind them. It is easier for them to get in, than to get out once in a confined space. This has lead to a bear overheating and dying in the vehicle.
The Smokies are a beautiful and spectacular place to visit. But the bears are not visiting, this is their home. Please help us keep them wild and roaming. View them from afar and do not approach them. Wildlife is not a petting zoo, and remember it is their nature to find food in the wild and not from a grocery store (humans). We appreciate you taking the effort to read, understand, and help us save the bears.
For more information and tips on bears and safety precautions you can visit http://www.bearwise.org
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