Black Bears in the Great Smoky Mountains

About 1,500 black bears live in the park. Females usually weigh about 100 lbs and males weigh 250, though bears as large as 600 have been found here.
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Female black bear. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

Female black bear. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

About 1,500 black bears live in the national park. Females usually weigh about 100 pounds and males weigh 250 pounds, though bears as large as 600 pounds have been found here. Bears are primarily vegetarian, munching on berries, nuts, insects, and plants such as squawroot. Though attacks are extremely rare, bears can be dangerous: If you see one, back away calmly. If the bear approaches you, yell and throw rocks to scare it away. Never run from a bear.

Where to See Black Bears

Bears wander through all elevations in the park, but are easiest to see in open areas like Cades Cove and Cataloochee. Scan the zones where meadows meet forests.

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