Momma Bears and Cubs of the Smokies

Springtime opens a new world for the bear cubs of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

(Painting by Terri Waters)

In the Smoky Mountains, bears are most active during the early morning and late evening hours of Spring and Summer. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, black bears inhabit all elevations. Biologists estimate that approximately 1,900 bears live in the park. Black bears in the Smokies are black in color, but in other areas of the country, they may be brown or cinnamon. They may be six feet long and up to three feet high at the shoulder. In the Summer months, an adult male black bear can weigh approximately 250 pounds, with adult females weighing slightly over 100 pounds. 

Bears can live to be 15 years old or greater. Unfortunately, bears which have had access to human foods and garbage have a life expectancy of approximately 7 years.

One to four cubs are born during the mother's winter sleep (usually January through February). The cubs weigh eight ounces at birth. Momma bears and cubs leave their dens around late March through mid April. Cubs are commonly born in pairs and stay with the mother for about eighteen months or until she mates again. 

Bears have a keen sense of smell and live on insects, nuts and berries. 

Always remember to never feed bears or wildlife. Human food shortens bears lifespan. Dispose of all garbage or food scraps in bear proof garbage containers or take it with you.

The bears of the Smokies are our precious gifts!