Bears in Gatlinburg TN & the Smoky Mountain National Park are wild. It is rare but sometimes bears can attack, because like any wild animal, bears behavior is unpredictable. Treat all bear encounters in Gatlinburg TN with extreme caution. Please keep in mind that bear encounters are very rare. Millions of people come to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN and never even see a bear. This is not to scare, but to prepare!
Watch carefully for bears and be even more careful if you see one. Here are some great guidelines to follow if you see a bear:
Do NOT attempt to get closer to a bear. If the bear stops eating, moves the other direction, watches you closely, etc. then you may possibly be too close.
If the bear shows any sort of aggressive behavior it means the bear is demanding more territory. (making loud noises, running toward you, and swatting at the ground are examples)
If the bear does get aggressive, do NOT run away instead slowly back away from the bear watching him as you move. This allows the bear more territory.
If a bear attempts to follow you, try changing the direction in which you are walking. If the bear seems to get closer, try talking loud or shouting at it. Act sort of aggressively to try to intimidate the bear.
If you are with a group, act together. Make yourselves look larger. (a good example would be to move to higher ground)
If a bear is moving closer, try throwing non-food items at it. (for example rocks or big sticks)
NEVER leave food out for a bear. Most injuries from black bears are a result of people leaving food out.
If a bear attempts to attack you while you have food, drop the food and slowly back away, while watching the bear.
If a bear attacks you and there is no food involved, fight back as aggressively as possible with any available object nearby.
Report ALL incidents or attacks to a park ranger.
Remember that it is illegal to harass or feed any park wildlife. Fines can range up to $5,000 and up to 6 months in prison.
Do NOT try to attract bears to the campsite. Keeping the campsite clean is an important part in preventing black bear attacks.
Keep cooking areas and sleeping areas apart.
Keep tents and sleeping bags free of food or food odors.
Do NOT store food or garbage around the campsite.
Pack out all food and/or litter. Never try to burn it or bury it.
If food storage devices are available, use them.
Proper food storage is required by regulation. Remember that garbage kills bears and endangers people.