Gone Green

After many different directions, I have decided to take this blog green. In addition to the occasional other news I may pop off on, I will be offering green tips and tricks from myself and the web. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Review: Black Bears of East Tennessee

Black bears are becoming more abundant in East Tennessee. This year with the drought, they also have a more visible presence as the desire for food and water bring them closer and closer to the biggest threat they have, mankind.

Based on current data, there are over 1800 black bears living in the Great Smoky Mountains national park. That is equal to 2 bears per square mile. They can be found in most all areas and elevations of the park. Black bear attacks on people are rare, and most of those come from people interfering with the bear.

When out this fall enjoying the colors in the mountains, whether hiking, camping, or just on a short drive, there is some important information to remember.

  • If you see a bear, do not attempt to approach it, pet it, or antagonize it in any way, shape or form.
  • When camping, keep all food away from the tent, and suspended from the ground.
  • Immediately dispose of any and all food scraps, containers, wrappers, napkins, or anything that may have the smell of food on it.
  • When hiking, do not leave backpacks, food, small animals or children unattended. Bears sense of smell is many times greater then ours.
  • Never, ever toss or feed the bears, or any wildlife, at any time. A human food dependant bear becomes a nuisance bear.

Food management is one of the easiest ways to prevent hostile bear encounters. Keep your food away from your sleeping area, and out of reach. Very, very rarely do black bears just attack people; although, there has been stories of them actively stalking and killing people. This is in the minority though.

What should you do if you encounter a bear? Keep the bear in your field of view and back away slowly. If the bear has interest in you, and you have food, lay it down and walk away slowly, never turning your back on the bear. If the bear begins making noise, slapping the ground, acting aggressive, it is a sign it is feeling threatened and cornered. Never approach a cub, its momma will be near by. The saying, “mad as a momma bear” comes from this very instance. Cubs are cute and all, but one cry from the cub brings momma running, and at this point your very life is in danger.

If a black bear notices you, and comes towards you, begin making noises, make yourself as tall as you can, look for a branch or rock to defend yourself with. Most experts now agree playing dead is a bad thing to do.

Black bears are wonderful animals, but like all wild animals they need to be respected. Respecting them, their space, and nature will ensure many generations are able to experience the thrill of a mountain drive, and seeing that elusive bear.


KMAmburgey said...

I live in southern greene county TN and this morning, much to my surprise at approximatly 8:45 am while looking out my kitchen window with a view of two large ponds around 4 acres total surrounded by thick woods I saw a large black bear. I've lived here 2 years and this is the first one I've seen. The folks I bought the house from actually had a large St. Bernard killed and gutted by a black bear, but WOW was I surprised to see this beautiful animal so close to my home. I'm not a hunter myself but I do believe in harvesting of deer and turkeys ; however, in my opinion, Bears dont fall into that catagory. What a beatutful animal! I'm used to seeing up to 8 or 10 deer a day coming right up to my house even with my dog on it's leash and she's a large canadian white wolfe/ huskie mix. I feel so fortunate to live in such a remote part of southern greene county Tn where wildlife abounds.


JawJuhPeach56 said...

We have had bear sightings in northwest Bradley County, TN this spring. Prior to this, we have had mostly deer on our property. We now have bear tracks and scat/droppings in our yard several times a week. I first noticed signs of the bears after my two labs (a chocolate and a black) became interested in several areas of the yard and woods surrounding the yard. We live by White Oak Mountain, on Zion Ridhe, so it's my guess there must be several in our area. A cub was hit by a car in a well populated area of the county a few weeks ago.
My husband saw a black bear around dawn a few mornings ago.
I have been reading up on how to handle any kind of bear confrontations, just in case. We have 3 dogs, so it's my guess they would more than likely scare off any bears, but I like to be educated on how to handle any situations.

The Insubordinate Thinker said...

We have been living in TN for 9 years in the far SE corner of Bradley County. We had never seen a bear...until yesterday. One just sort of sauntered down our road, in no particular rush and with minimal interest in the fact we were outside and about 50 yards away. Since it is also the year the 13-year cicadas have emerged I'm wondering if we will see more bears taking the opportunity to feed on the abundance of these tasty bugs. We do live in a wooded area where the cicadas a plentiful.