May 19

Trails closed for aggressive bears?

Editors Note> Why do I have a hard time buying this one <

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have closed Mt. Le Conte Backcountry Shelter and trails to the popular Cliff Tops area due to bear activity until further notice. At this time, trails leading to the summit of Mt. Le Conte remain open, but hikers are strongly encouraged to hike in tight groups of three or more and carry bear spray. Park wildlife staff are currently stationed onsite to monitor the situation.

On Sunday, May 17, one of the park’s wildlife technicians encountered an aggressive bear near the trail to Cliff Tops that persistently approached and followed him for 0.3 mile. Loud noises and attempts from the ranger to scare the bear did not deter the bear’s repeated threatening advance. The bear followed him to the LeConte Lodge area before retreating into the forest.

“Hiking in bear country requires caution at all times,” said Deputy Superintendent Clay Jordan. “We seldom fully close trail areas, but the unusually aggressive behavior exhibited by this bear warrants action by staff and special precautions by hikers.”


Park officials urge everyone to exercise caution while hiking, camping, and picnicking to ensure their personal safety and to protect bears. Black bears in the park are wild and unpredictable. Though rare, attacks on humans do occur, causing injuries or death. Hikers are always encouraged hike in groups, closely control children, and carry bear spray. Taking these precautions become especially important when a notably aggressive bear is identified by park officials in an area.

Bears should never be fed and all food waste should be properly disposed to discourage bears from approaching people. Feeding, touching, disturbing, and willfully approaching wildlife within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces wildlife, are illegal in the park. If approached by a bear, visitors should slowly back away to put distance between the animal and themselves, creating space for the animal to pass. If the bear continues to approach, rangers recommend that you stand your ground together as a group and do not run. Hikers should make themselves look large and throw rocks or sticks at the bear. If attacked by a black bear, rangers strongly recommend fighting back with any object available and remember that the bear may view you as prey.



27 Responses to “Trails closed for aggressive bears?”

  1. Steven B

    “Editors Note> Why do I have a hard time buying this one <" Maybe because you are no longer a "babe in the woods" so to spek and, by experience, you know different…

    Steve B, Rio Grande Valley TX

  2. Pamela C

    Ok who lives close to Tenn? I think we should get some folks together and make a trip to the Smokies. This sounds like a classic BF incident. Especially since we have heard so many folks on this show talk about how black bears avoid people and this is the type of bear they have there. ????

    • Steven B

      While, like the editor, I don’t think this passes the “smell” test, black bears sometimes don’t avoid people in areas where there is no reason to fear people – i.e. no hunting allowed. For an example, in my home province of Ontario, Canada, for a time the spring bear hunt was cancelled. After this bear/human encounters began to rise.

      Don’t always count on an area with black bears that they will avoid you. Sometimes they get acclimated to people as being a source of food. The statement “…rangers strongly recommend fighting back with any object available and remember that the bear may view you as prey.” is a scary but factual statement.

    • r v

      I think you should have a face-to-face convo with the rangers. A telltale sign will be if they keep using air quotes every time they say the word “bear”.

  3. Dave T

    Don’t jump the gun and think BF at every incident that happens in the woods. Black bears can be aggressive and have attacked and killed people. The smokies has an ass load of bears there. Late spring into early summer is black bears breeding time or “rut” which tends to make them more aggressive and territorial. There’s always the sow that will protect her cubs even to the death at times. So this is probably just what it says it is. It doesn’t mean we are on the black bear menu or do I ever recall a man eating black bear on the loose. Grizzlies are a different story. People need to use common sense, respect, and use caution around wild animals period.

  4. Patricia R

    This is the place where the Tim Hall story happened—the guy who worked for the Forest Service in college, he and 5 other guys had hiked all day and were sleeping in bunks in a cabin on this mountain. The creature came and pounded on the heavy wood door of the cabin—I can’t recall the episode you played it in but it’s on youtube.
    It was a scary story and I believe him completely.

  5. Tristene M

    I’m more wary of black then grizzlies. Grizzlies will attack you because you surprised them and to neutralize a threat. A black bear will attack you to eat you much more often. If a bear is stalking people they should be killed, period. Once a bear has a taste for human it will NOT be rehabilitated. The fact this is not happening makes me wonder. We have trails close during fishing season as a combination of brownies with cubs added to fishing territory adds a lot of danger where humans end up losers in the end. So the state closes certain trails to avoid that particular danger. I’m unsure as to how the state this happened in takes care of predation bears but closing a trail is not going to work if this is the case.

  6. Tennessquatch

    I live a couple hours from this area, and can vouch that there are plenty of black bears in the area that give absolutely no you-know-whats towards uncomfortably following people.

    Quite a number of sightings in that area, going back into the early 1800s, but just because that might be the case, doesn’t equate to such warnings being BF related.

  7. Tyler D

    I like how they added at the end they put “If the bear attacks fight back with any object available “. Oh really? I was not aware of this. I was just planning on letting him gnaw at my face like he’s messed up on bath salts. It’s just like No Shit. Pardon my language. I think that should probably go without sayin right? N I’ve never heard of black bears, or any bears for that matter, that’ll stalk a man for almost half a mile and not make a move. Bears don’t play mind games with their prey. Either they’re gonna come at you or they’re not. Simple and blunt

  8. Trey

    I’m here in E. Tenn and the Smokys are at my doorstep. I have to say I’m pretty sure his really is just a few aggressive black bear. First if it was something else I don’t think they would “advise” people not to hike, they would shut the whole trail down. They’ve done it before to the trail of tears and a few others. Second, this has been all over the news for a couple days now. I don’t see them bringing this much attention to it and it really being something else. Black bears do get aggressive even if it is rare. This trail goes to the2nd highest point in Tennessee at Mt Leconte and is in the middle of nowhere. The only way to get to this resort is to camp so every once in a while people are gonna see an Aggresive black bear. It happens

  9. erin f

    also, its fact this is bigfoot mating season and they use mind control on the park rangers to make these warnings, so that they can mate in peace… one thing that bigfoot hates , is being watched when they’re having sex

    • Tyler D

      Erin F, are you being sarcastic? Can’t really tell if you’re bein serious. I’m curious on what makes you think it’s bigfoot mating season? I’ve always thought that sasquatch, like us, did their business whenever they wanted

  10. rob b

    I live 10 minutes from the Smoky Mtn National Park and have hiked those trails many, many times over the years. They commonly close them around this time of the year as the bears here are way to accustomed to people. The App Trail goes right through the same area and I have been bluffed charged by the black bears in this area when cooking breakfast. They are quite bold. I am a sasquatch believer but in this case I don’t think the Park Service would bother protecting us from sasquatch and if they were causing issues we would probably just hear about missing people.

  11. MilitantDanny

    I checked with Ray the Spaceman, he says it was his Pharaoh brethren scouting the area for new Pyramid construction, subcontracted out by the Titan Moon people. They’re pretty intent on buying so they’re trying to keep any potential bidders out of the area through aggression.

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