Black Bear Safety Tips for the Smoky Mountains

What to do if you see a bear in the Smoky Mountains
Spotting a bear in the Smoky Mountains is a thrill, but it’s important to stay safe – remember these 3 tips.

Many people dream of seeing black bears during their visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it’s important to know what to do if you see a bear. Running may be your first instinct, but you’ll feel confident with these tips.

Here’s what to do if you see a bear:

  1. Don’t run. Black bears are mostly non-aggressive toward humans but they are still wild animals. They are unpredictable and can be dangerous. Running could trigger the bear to chase you, so it’s important to remain still and calm. 
  1. Move slowly. According to the National Park Service, the safe distance for enjoying bears is 100 yards. If you find yourself too close to a bear, you can stand still while the animal leaves. If it doesn’t, slowly back away from the animal. Never turn your back; keep your eyes on the bear at all times. Once you’re at a safe distance, try to enjoy the moment. At that distance, feel free to snap photos but if you’re closer you will need to remain calm and make slow movements. That cool, closeup Instagram video could cost you your life, and authorities will most often euthanize an aggressive bear. Provoking a bear could be lethal for both parties. 
  1. Be loud, if necessary. If a bear is approaching and you DO feel threatened, everyone in your group should raise your hands in the air, stand on the highest ground possible, and get loud. Clap your hands and call out aggressively, blow your bear whistle, stomp your feet, etc. Appearing large and loud can cause the bear to leave the area. At this point, you will want to have your bear spray ready.

These 3 tips for what to do if you see a bear in the Smoky Mountains can be life-saving. Seeing black bears is a real treat, and doing so safely makes the encounter even better. They are fascinating creatures! Learn more about them here.

Before heading to the Smokies, learn how to prevent a close encounter with a bear. Share these tips with your group and remember each of them during your next visit to the Smoky Mountains. 

Authored in Appalachia || Amy Morton


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