Blog for Zipline Attraction in the Smoky Mountains

Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.


Have A Bearable Spring!

By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on March 26, 2024

Now that we're heading into April, we can probably safely say that we are fully ensconced in spring, at least in terms of our general weather patterns. We've likely seen our last snowfall for a while, and we're starting to really see things warm up and bloom in the Great Smoky Mountains.

That translates into an increase in outdoor activity among visitors to the Smokies, which might include hanging out in the hills with us at Smoky Mountain Ziplines as well as hiking, picnicking, cycling or camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But that also means that we're going to start seeing an increase in activity in another population that's native to the area - the black bears.

As the bears emerge from hibernation, they will be out in the wild in increasing numbers as they forage for food, especially for any cubs that might have been born during the winter and will be discovering the outside world for the first time, under the guidance of Mama Bear, naturally.

As a result, we're getting into a time of year when incidences of man-bear encounters tend to increase. In general, a bear sighting is still a relatively rare occurrence on hiking trails and such. But it does happen, and it seems that visitors to the Cades Cove area of the national park tend to sight bears at a higher rate. It's not unusual for a bear traffic jam to occur when a tourist sees a bear and stops their vehicle to gawk, backing up all the cars behind them on the cove's one-way road.

Regardless of how, when or where you encounter a black bear, however, it's important to respect that population and adhere to some guidelines that are geared toward protecting not only you the visitor but also the bears themselves. More often than not, bear-human interaction leads to negative results for one or both parties involved. That's why we're sharing some bear basics that we hope you keep in mind this spring and summer as you venture out into the beauty of the Smokies.

One of the main things to keep in mind is that bears are wild animals. They can be dangerous and unpredictable. They're not animals in cages at zoos. So please don't try to interact with them. It's not good for them, and it could lead to serious injury or even death for those who get too close. No photo or selfie is worth that.

In fact, did you know that it's illegal to willfully approach within 50 yards of a black bear or do anything that disturbs it or displaces it? Violations can lead to federal fines or even arrest. Instead, the park service recommends using binoculars or telephoto lenses on cameras or spotting scopes to get close-up views of the animals. Showing animals respect is the best thing you can do enjoy the experience of seeing them in the wild.

Did you also know that in the last 10 years, there has been an average of 339 negative bear-human encounters reported annually? And those are just the ones that get reported. No telling how many more there actually are.

This week, we're going to start by helping you learn to be smart about how to treat black bears. For starters, just knowing how to manage your trash is a huge step in not attracting bears, which are always on the hunt for food. However, human food is injurious to bears, and the more we feed them, the more dependent they become on us and the more they start to encroach on human territory to get their next snack.

We know this sounds like a cliché, but please don't feed the bears, and keep all your litter, especially empty food containers, picked up and disposed of in bear-proof garbage receptacles. Also make sure you store you food supplies either in your vehicle or tied up to a high tree limb where bears can't reach.

We're just getting started on this subject, so check back with next week's blog post to learn more about bear-human protocol as we enter this warm-weather season. And now that we're open for our 2024 season, we're ready to institute some human-zipline protocol. We hope you find some time during your next trip to the Smokies to enjoy the best ziplines Gatlinburg has. Give us a call today or book your tour online.


This content posted by Smoky Mountain Ziplines. Visit our home page, for more information on zipline adventures in the Smoky Mountains.

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