Black Bears and Visitors Too Close For Safety
1,500 black bears live in the GSMNP and roam free but problems from tourist getting too close for pictures or to feed the bears present a huge problem. Feeding them will make the bears depend on close human contact for food and leads to problems. Fed bears keep coming back to humans for more food and thus pose a potential risk. Bears that get used to close human contact must be relocated into other more remote locations in the park for their safety. When they become so comfortable they repeatedly approach people and someone is injured, no other forests will adopt the bear and rangers are forced to kill the it. This actually happened in 2010. Since then Park officials have placed signs for visitors to avoid feeding the bears. You can still take great pictures and enjoy the sightings at a safe distance. Keeping a distance of 50 yard away is a law that the Park can enforce by fine or an arrest.