Another video is making the rounds on social media after a North Carolina woman captured a group of tourists getting dangerously close to a mother black bear and her cub in Cades Cove.
This time, nearly 30 people, including children, are seen snapping photos mere feet away from the pair of bears. Stacey Sykes, who took the video, said the mama bear could be seen getting visibly agitated by the gathering crowd. That’s when Sykes said she took out her camera and began recording the group. She was upset because the crowd visibly made the bears upset.
“It’s not her fault. It’s people who want that picture. If you want that kind of a picture, get a better camera,” said Sykes.
Sykes said she tried to call a ranger to intervene, but there wasn’t any service in the cove.
Since she posted her video to Facebook, it has been shared thousands of times.
There are signs throughout Cades Cove reminding people not to get too close to bears or elk for their own safety and the safety of the animals. Animals that attack people in the park, even if they are provoked, are often euthanized.
We talked to Jamie Sanders, a spokesperson for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, who said that willfully getting within 150 feet (50 yards) of a bear in the park is illegal and could lead to a $5,000 fine and/or arrest.
“If you notice a bear changes its behavior, really starts to look up and look at you a lot, you are affecting that bear’s behavior,” said Sanders.
Sanders said rangers do issue citations regularly for people who get too close to the animals. She added that, if you see someone getting too close to a bear in the park, you should find the nearest park employee. That person can use the park’s radio system to get a ranger out to the scene.
She said bears can get too comfortable around people and in some cases, the park has no choice but to deal with that bear. Sanders said it typically means relocating the animal.