Cades Cove wildlife is one of the main reasons millions of visitors come to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park every year. Black bears are the staple figure of wildlife in the Smoky Mountains and people come from all over the world to try and take a glimpse of one of these majestic creatures. However, not many people know a lot about them besides that they are fuzzy and cute and hibernate in the winter.
Here are a few facts about our favorite Cades Cove wildlife animal, the black bear:
1. The Smoky Mountains has the densest population of black bears in the United States.
Biologists estimate that there are roughly 1,500 black bears living within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This equals a population density of about 2 bears per every square mile.
2. Black bears do not just eat meat.
Black bears, like humans, are omnivores. Eighty-five percent of their diet consists of berries and nuts. The other part of their diet consists of insects and other animals, which is where bears get their protein from.
3. Black bears are not necessarily black in color.
In the Great Smoky Mountains region, black bears are black in color. However, in other parts of the country, the black bear species can be brown or cinnamon in color.
4. Cades Cove is the best site to view black bears.
Your best chance at viewing black bears and other wildlife is in Cades Cove. Cades Cove provides wildlife, like black bears, with clearings and pastures where they like to hang out. These areas make it easier for visitors to spot Cades Cove wildlife. Bears are more active after dawn and just before dusk, so that will be the best times to view them.
5. Black bears are huge!
Well, they aren’t that big compared to their cousin, the grizzly bear, but they are still pretty big. A typical black bear is 3 feet tall and 6 feet long. Males weigh 250 pounds on average while females are much smaller at around 100 pounds. However, bears of over 600 pounds have been documented within the Great Smoky Mountains.
6. Black Bears live for about 12 to 15 years.
Black bears have a life expectancy of 12-15 years of age.The life expectancy of a black bear can cut in half when bears have access to waste and human food. That is why it is vitally important to never feed the bears.
7. Don’t think you can outrun a bear.
Black bears can run 30 miles per hour. They also are great tree climbers and can swim very well. So, climbing a tree is not the best way to get away from a bear. If you encounter a bear, it is best to back away slowly while maintaining eye contact with the bear.
8. Black bears can make up to 20 different sounds.
Black bears can make up to 20 different sounds that can mean a variety of different things. Sounds expressing aggression include growls, woofs, snorts, bellows and roars. While sounds expressing contentment includes mumbles, squeaks, and pants.
9. Don’t mess with mama bears.
Mama bears are notorious for being protective of their young. What people do not know is that a bear can have between 1 and 6 cubs per litter. But most bears have only 2 or 3 cubs per litter.
10. When looking for black bears, don’t forget to look up.
Bears are always looking for food. Contrary to popular belief, bears can climb trees, and they do so to look for food. In trees, bears can collect insects, bird eggs and acorns, all a great source of food.
Cades Cove wildlife is an attraction in itself to the many visitors of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With many amazing animals from the black bear to white-tailed deer, guests are guaranteed to typically see some form of wildlife. If touring Cades Cove with your family sounds like a great adventure to you, check out our Cades Cove driving tour for a detailed map.