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‘My first encounter with morons!’ | Smokies visitor captures video of bear encounter

Great Smoky Mountains National Park-goers have recently captured pictures and videos of humans getting too comfortable with bears while visiting the park.
The Jeep stops for a while to let tourists take a look
Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 10:57 AM CDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Great Smoky Mountains National Park-goers have recently captured pictures and videos of humans getting a little too comfortable with bears while visiting the park.

The first is a video showing a tour Jeep full of park visitors stopping to take pictures and interact with a bear on a mountain road. The tour Jeep driver stops the vehicle and allows the tourists to get a good look at the bear.

The person taking the video, Lilly Tallent, said that stopping was not a good idea. She also mentioned wanting to honk her car horn to scare the bear away, which is decent advice according to the TWRA, which recommends making loud noise when you see a bear to frighten it away. She also had some choice words for those who stopped to look at the bear.

“This is not my first bear encounter. This is my first encounter with a bunch of ******* morons in the park!” she said.

Stopping to look at bears can sound fun, but it actually breaks some of the park’s rules about what to do when you come across a bear.

Park officials ask that visitors “do not approach within 50 yards or any distance that disturbs a bear” and “do not allow bears to approach you.” These rules, along with rules asking visitors to not feed or interact with bears, are all ways to protect the bear population. The Tennessee state website puts it best: “The age-old adages: GARBAGE KILLS BEARS and A FED BEAR IS A DEAD BEAR could not be truer.”

Bear interacts with car in Smokies
Bear interacts with car in Smokies(Britney Beasley)

Another park-goer, Britney Beasley, sent in a picture of a bear standing up on its hind legs to explore a car. She commented on what she saw on Facebook, saying:

“Sad sight on my way home from a hike today. I thought at first it was scared/wanted to cross the road but was too nervous with traffic. (Zoomed & cropped) Then I saw the bear goes from car to car to car. I laid on my horn hoping to scare it away from traffic & back to the forest. It did not deter him at all. This is a bear that does not have fear of humans and will most likely die young.

If you love the bears, you need to help them stay wild. They need to gather their own food to avoid this type of scenario.”

These behaviors can be dangerous to bears because it teaches them to be comfortable around humans, which can be deadly, TWRA guidelines state. “Nationwide bear management experience has clearly shown that bears attracted to human food sources, or that are deliberately fed by humans, have a relatively short life,” the state website reads.

WVLT News reached out to Pink Jeep Tours about this video and was referred to their corporate office in Branson, Missouri.

If you see a bear in the Smokies, follow these tips. Also, remember to report all bear sightings and rule-breakers.

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