Gatlinburg Hotel Rule – Do Not Pet Bears Or Other

If you go to Gatlinburg, you can usually count on AT LEAST two things – pancake restaurants and bears. (Well, MAYBE bears; I’ve been there several times and haven’t seen a single one.)

BEARS ARE THE GATLINBURG LANDSCAPE

But it’s been a while since I’ve been there, and it seems the bears are getting more and more at home among tourists and passers-by.

What always strikes me as odd about this is that visitors can’t wait to see bears. But would you seriously want to be approached on the street while shopping for souvenirs? Neither do I. How about meeting HERE?

WHY DO PEOPLE WANT TO INTERACT WITH A BEAR?

While I didn’t see too many people pausing to get away from the bear – that’s probably not smart, anyway – I also didn’t see anyone approaching and pretending that Nor was it their fluffy pet cat.

But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I mean, haven’t we recently seen almost DAILY reports of tourists getting too close to buffaloes in the west to pay the expected price?

I don’t approach a buffalo any more than a bear. And no, I wouldn’t avoid petting a bear for fear of getting kicked out of my hotel; I would just do it because it’s the SMART thing to do. And I have perhaps never written a greater understatement.

THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES OF TRYING TO PET A BEAR

You see, the Quality Inn Creekside Hotel in Gatlinburg very recently had to deal with a guest who actually reached out and NEAR the mouth of a black bear.

Raise your hand if you EVER thought you needed to tell someone not to pet a bear.

Have you noticed the owner had to kick out guests – PLURAL – for getting too close to the bears? He tries to find the woman in this picture so he can do the same to her.

The United States National Park Service has extensively addressed the issue of human/bear contact, and the agency’s FIRST golden rule is, again, a wild understatement… AVOID CONTACT.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU ENCOUNTER A BEAR

But if you and Yogi cross eyes, here are the recommendations from the USNPS:

  • Identify yourself speaking calmly so the bear knows you are human and not prey. Stay still; hold on but wave your arms slowly. Help the bear recognize you as a human. He may move closer or stand on his hind legs to see or smell better. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.
  • Stay calm and remember that most bears don’t want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears can bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by screaming, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and rolling their ears back. Keep talking to the bear in a low voice; it will help keep you calmer and won’t threaten the bear. A scream or sudden movement can trigger an attack. Never imitate bear calls or squeal.
  • pick up little kids immediately. Don’t make loud noises or screams—the bear may think it’s the sound of prey. Slowly wave your arms above your head and tell the bear to back off. Do NOT run or make sudden movements. Don’t make loud noises or screams—the bear may think it’s the sound of prey.
  • Hiking and group travel. Groups of people are usually louder and smellier than a single person. Therefore, bears are often aware of groups of people at greater distances, and because of their cumulative size, groups are also intimidating to bears.
  • Make yourself look as tall as possible (for example, moving to higher ground).
  • Do NOT let the bear access your food. Get your food will only encourage the bear and make the problem worse for others.
  • Do NOT drop your bag because it can protect your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.
  • If the bear is motionless, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving laterally also does not threaten bears.
  • Do not run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold on. Bears can run as fast as a racehorse both uphill and downhill. Like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals.
  • Do NOT climb a tree. Grizzly bears and black bears can climb trees.
  • Leave the region or make a detour. If this is impossible, wait for the bear to move away. Always give the bear an escape route.
  • Be especially careful if you see a female with cubs; never come between a mother and her calf, and never try to approach them. The chances of an attack increase dramatically if she perceives you as a danger to her young.

And one more thing…if you’re in Gatlinburg, there really is a lot to do. Visit the aquarium; go to Ripley’s; admire Clingman’s Dome; eat PANCAKES, to cry out loud.

Just keep the HE-Double-Hockey-Sticks away from the bears.

[SOURCE: WSMV-Nashville]

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