Black bear on rocks in the Smoky Mountains

According to the National Park Service, 2014 may go down in history as “The Year of the Yearling.” This year, there seems to be a much larger number of yearling black bears wandering throughout the national park.

Yearlings can be known for creating conflicts, but the National Park Service is keeping them under control. When adult bears have their yearlings, two things happen. If the yearlings are female, the female is allowed to share a territory with the mother, but the male yearlings are normally sent away to find a new territory of their own. Eventually, even female yearlings are left to fend for themselves when their mother goes to find another mate.

(Check out our post: Black bears in the Smoky Mountains for even more information)Black bear hiding in the grass in the Smoky Mountains

One problem the male yearlings may face is finding their ‘own’ place. Their territory can’t interfere with the territory of any other bears. Since the Great Smoky Mountains National Park already has so many bears, it’s difficult for the males to find and claim their own space. This is why bears are often found wandering through campgrounds and public areas—they are in search of a place away from other bears.

Wildlife Safety Tips: 5 Ways to Stay Safe around Smoky Mountain Black Bears

  1. Law states that it is illegal to approach within 50 yards of bear in the national park, so make sure to stay at a safe distance.

  2. Make sure to pick up any trash after a picnic, so bears don’t catch the scent and search for it. This will lead bears into the picnic areas, which end up causing a public disturbance.

  3. Black bear peeking over a treeNever try to feed black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains. While it is illegal to approach them, it is extremely dangerous to get close enough to feed them. It’s best to keep bears fearful of human interaction, but if we start to feed them, they’ll become more comfortable with humans and will always be looking for that interaction. It has been said that black bears who live in their natural habitat will live longer than bears who feed on picnic scraps and have human interaction.

  4. If you ever see young bears with their mother, make sure to stay especially careful. The mother will do whatever it takes to protect her young, and they will be on high alert with their yearlings around. Virtually everything becomes a threat to them in these situations, so make sure to keep a good distance away.

  5. Don’t wander far from the trails. Black bears understand the popular areas where hikers are normally spotted, but the rest of the national park is their personal home. So, when you start wandering into their main territory, you will likely encounter a bear or two. Just be aware of your surroundings at all times.

  6. Remember that bears tend to be spooked with loud noises or abrupt movement. If you are in the presence of a bear, remain calm and avoid spooking it in any way. We want to make sure everyone has a safe vacation, so make sure to teach your kids about bear safety, too.

For more information about how to stay safe around Smoky Mountain black bears: bear wandering in the grass

Don’t be too scared of black bears, though! They are beautiful animals and are amazing wildlife to watch interact with one another. When you spend time in the national park, make sure to pack your camera because you will most likely spot a black bear or two, and you’ll want to take a few pictures!

Ready to pack your bags and head to the Great Smoky Mountains? At Jackson Mountain Homes, we want everyone to have the opportunity to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, so we put together a variety of Gatlinburg cabin specials to help you save money. To start planning your vacation, give us a call at (800) 473-3163 to speak with our friendly vacation experts.