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WILDLIFE IN THE SMOKIES!

 Hebrews 13:8 Jesus
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BLACK BEAR FACTS!
(Well Know Facts, But Use At Your Own Risk!)

     Black Bear researchers just recently announced that the estimated population of Black Bears in the Great Smoky Mountains is denser than any other natural area in the entire United States, with populations nearing 2,000!

     Only an exceedingly rich ecosystem is capable of supporting such a high density, providing food and shelter to these animals, of which 80% of its diet is made up of berries, roots, grasses, leaves,  and mast (acorns and nuts), Of which 2002 has been described by Park Officials as a 'bumper' crop, which good berry and mast falls traditionally result in bears gaining 2-3 pounds per day, and females producing two to three healthy cubs.  The balance of the Black Bears diet typically consists of occasional salamanders, rodents, insects, and animals even as big as wild hogs and deer.  In very sparse years, bears will venture out of the protection of the National Park and become exposed to hunters, land owners and even poachers.  There have been extremely sparse years where an estimated one third of the Black Bear population in Southern Appalachia.

      Don't let the lumbering Black Bear fool you, these animals are capable of bursts up to 30 miles per hour, much faster than the fastest human.  Females average 125  pounds, while their male counterparts average 100 pounds heavier than the females.  The author knows of one such bear that was illegally killed in Gatlinburg that weighed over 600 pounds!  Although a small percentage of the Smokies Black Bears may have white chest markings, Mature brown or cinnamon bears do not occur here.  The average Black Bear will live between 8-12 years, although some have lived here to over 20 years.  There were witnesses to so called 'hunters' that would prop open dumpsters (folks this was approximately 2,000 feet from downtown Gatlinburg traffic light #6) and wait till a bear tried to climb in the dumpster and shoot them.  If these 'hunters' call this 'sport', it's just to bad the bears can't have guns and shoot back... (This was the exception, we're not implying every Gatlinburg hunter stooped to such inhumane tactics.)  It's just that the bears near the motel by the dumpster were absolutely adored by locals and vacationers alike FROM A DISTANCE, and was the highlight of many a vactioner to see a real live bear!

     When looking for bears, don't forget to look UP as bears spend a lot of times in trees foraging for insects, bird eggs, acorns, and even hollowed out trunks to sleep in.  Black Bears are also good swimmers.

     Although Black Bears enter the winter dens about the middle of December, they will occasionally leave the den for days at a time.  Biologists weigh more upon the lack of food, than the cold temperature when  it comes to denning.

     Female bears without cubs and male bears will emerge from their dens in the middle of March, female bears with cubs (a typical family will be twins, with as many as 5 cubs have been reported in the National Park) will typically emerge in the early part of April.  The cubs will generally be with their mother until they reach the age of 1.5 years (18 months) or until she mates again.

WHEN AND WHERE TO SPOT BEARS

     For the best chance to spot bears, we recommend that you head to Cades Cove or Cataloochee, where you will find clearings and pastures where bears are more easily spotted.  We have also spotted bears while filming our Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail virtual tour.  

     The best times are just after dawn or just before dusk, but bears are frequently active from approximately 6:00 AM - 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM.

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John 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
 
 

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