Visitors in Cades Cove get dangerously close to bears

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Cades Cove tourist says her first visit was marked by people getting entirely too close to black bears.

Stacey Sykes said they saw about 13 bears throughout the visit on May 19, but she said seeing how visitors reacted to a bear and her cub trying to cross the road made her angry.

"(It) made my blood boil," Sykes wrote on Facebook. "The mother was just trying to get her cub safe. Look at the people around her."

A black bear can be see on the right side of the screen, with adults and children surrounding it, getting close for a good look and pictures.

In another video, the bear is joined by what appears to be her cub, both crossing between the group of people and cars. The crowd got pretty big.

"One woman even slipped," Sykes wrote. "I was in our truck with my camera on zoom, so I was not even close to her."

The black bears can be seen running up into the woods, and the crowd headed back to their cars.

A photographer at Cades Cove earlier this month captured a number of pictures May 13-14 showing visitors getting very close to bears in the park, too.

Jackie Gilbert shared the photos on Facebook, saying she was far away, zooming in with her camera to photograph the bears but people were getting in her way. One of the pictures shows what appears to be a teenage girl taking a selfie with the bears.

Gilbert visited the park on Sunday and Monday, and she said a park ranger didn't show up either time.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park wants visitors to be aware that bears are wild animals, and can be dangerous or unpredictable. It's illegal to come within 50 yards of bears in the park, and violations can result in fines and arrest. Officials recommend visitors use telephoto lenses like Gilbert did, or binoculars or a spotting scope.

If you come across the bear in the wild, visit the GSMNP's website to find out how to stay safe.


Jackie Gilbert Photography
Jackie Gilbert Photography
Jackie Gilbert Photography
Jackie Gilbert Photography