Smokies wildlife workers see an increase in bear cubs this year

Smokies wildlife workers see an increase in bear cubs this year

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Most people who told 6 News they've seen bears said they saw them in the late afternoon and early evening. Most people who told 6 News they've seen bears said they saw them in the late afternoon and early evening.
"We've had reports anywhere from one to four bear cubs. Two to three is most common, but we have had one report of four," said park wildlife biologist Bill Stiver. "We've had reports anywhere from one to four bear cubs. Two to three is most common, but we have had one report of four," said park wildlife biologist Bill Stiver.

By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park could see more bears this year than last year.

That's because of an increase in cubs born in the park since last summer.

"We've had reports anywhere from one to four bear cubs. Two to three is most common, but we have had one report of four," said park wildlife biologist Bill Stiver.

Because of a small acorn crop a few years ago, there weren't as many cubs last year.

"We've got kind of an unusual event going on here. We had a mass failure in the fall of 2011 and as a result last year, very few adult female bears in the park producing cubs and so they've kind of all synchronized right now," Stiver explained.

Visitors who say they've spotted bears while at the park say they saw them on the Laurel Falls Trail or at Cades' Cove. There have also been spottings near Elkmont.

"It wasn't until we got to the really top of the trail when a couple of people told us, 'There's a cub, there's a cub!'" said visitor Carolina Wetzel.

Other visitors hope to see a bear before the end of their trip.

"When we were walking up the trail, we heard something and we both kind of shuddered. My husband and I thought 'Is that a bear? Could it be a bear?' And then we just kept on walking," said Rachel Hezlep.

There are park regulations restricting how close you can get to a bear should you see one.

You can't approach a bear within 50 yards.

"We have two peaks really in bear activity. One being in late May and June and the other being in early to mid August before the acorns come out. So those are the two most difficult times for bears in the park," Stiver added.

Most people who told 6 News they've seen bears said they saw them in the late afternoon and early evening.

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