Great Smoky Mountains Officials Close Section of Park Due to Ravenous Bears

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: jared lloyd

If you’re heading into the Great Smoky Mountain’s National Park this weekend for some camping, it’s important to know that some sections have been closed. According to park officials, the closures result from hungry bears in the area.

On Wednesday, officials announced that they would temporarily close the Gatlinburg Trail between Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and the Sugarlands Visitor Center, as well as the Twin Creeks Trail between Gatlinburg and the Twin Creeks Science and Education Center.

Officials said both trails had been restricted to visitors due to a large population of black bears feeding on acorns.

The trails will remain off-limits until further notice for visitors’ safety. In addition, this closure allows bears to feed without interruption on natural foods in the area. Bears need to feed on fall foods such as acorns and grapes to store fat reserves. These fat reserves help them survive winter during hibernation.

In addition, the park is also offering a warning to those who live near the park. In September, bears in the area ate all the chickens on a woman’s property.

“Bears move around a lot during the fall looking for acorns, with some traveling more than 30 miles to feed in a particular stand of oak trees,” officials said in a release.

“Generally bears are solitary, however, during the fall, several bears may be seen feeding in close proximity. They will often feed for more than 12 hours a day and can be concentrated in areas where abundant food sources are found. During this time period, normally wary bears may act aggressively to defend these areas.”

Bear breaks into man’s vacation rental near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Recently, a bear ruined a tourist’s Smoky Mountain vacation when the bear burst into the tourist’s cabin and attacked him.

The man was in a mountain vacation home when the bear came inside and went after him on Saturday, Oct. 22, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The attack was reported after 11 p.m. in Gatlinburg, a community near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

According to reports, the bear barged into the cabin “in the middle of the night.” Officials also believe the bear came “through a set of locked, but not dead-bolted, French doors.” Then, the man found the animal in the kitchen.

“The bear charged the man and swatted at him, causing serious injuries to his face and the top of his head,” the wildlife agency said in a release. “The bear also scratched him across his back as he retreated to the bedroom where he locked himself in and called 911.”

Once emergency officials arrived on the scene, the tourist declined medical treatment. However, he was later released from the hospital, per the agency. Officials also said a nearby trap caught a bear that matched the description of the one involved in the incident.