Park bears are solitary animals.
They reside in territories that may expand or contract
depending upon conditions such as current bear population
and the availability of food. The park bears territory
consists primarily of food, water, bedding resources
and the paths leading to them. American Black Bear territory
is typically thick woodland interrupted by an occasional
field, making Cades Cove in GSMNP ideal bear territory.
Generally speaking, park bear territories average about
one bear per square mile, but a 1998 study showed that
approximately 1,700 bears live in the park which gives
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park about two
bears per square mile.
If food or water is scarce, park
bears may need to wander further than their normal territory
in order to find food. When the growing season does
not produce enough berries and mast (nuts, acorns, etc.)
to support the bear population, black bears can range
up to one hundred square miles. Naturally this situation
places many of the park bears outside the protection
of the park and in danger of poachers, hunters, civilization,
and of course highways. Up to one third of the park
bear population have been lost in particularly bad years.
Like all park bears, Smoky Mountain
Black Bears defend their territories against other bears,
but will share some territory if food supplies are good,
especially in the case of male bears and their female
companions. In such circumstances there is a respect
for the order of dominance among the bears. Dominance
is of course established by aggressive behavior. The
weak and faint of heart are at the bottom of the order.
Note: For more information about the Smoky Mountain black bear, Kate Marshall Graphics has produced an award winning video
production about the black bear. The video has been approved for educational content by the National Park Service and the Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, and is now being offered for sale at the official Park visitors centers.
More Black Bear Info:
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