Great Smoky Mountains National Park reminds visitors of bear safety

WATE 6 On Your Side staff - GATLINBURG (WATE) - The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is reminding visitors to be aware of bears.

While at the park, visitors should take precautions to be safe and to keep the bears safe.

"Bears are very active right now, and we're receiving reports across the park of bear sightings along trails and roadways," said Park Wildlife Biologist Bill Stiver. "We ask for the public's help by respecting bears' space."

The park says to leave bears alone, especially when they are looking for food. Do not feed the bears.

Coolers should be stored in the trunk of a vehicle when not in use and trash should be properly disposed of.

The park says hikers should go through the park in groups of two or more and carry bear spray.

Being within 50 yards of wildlife can cause a disturbance and is illegal.

The park says if you are approached by a bear, slowly back away. Do not run. Hikers should stand their ground as a group and throw rocks or sticks at the bear.

If a bear attacks, fight back with any object available because the animal may see you as prey. Attacks are rare, but can cause injuries or death.

For more information, visit the park's website.

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