1. They’re the smallest bear species in North America.
In North America, there are three bear species: polar bears, brown bears, and black bears. In the Smoky Mountains, you’ll only find black bears. Of all three species, black bears are the smallest. They typically stand on all fours at 5 or 6 feet tall at most, compared to 10 feet for polar bears.
2. Black bears are omnivores.
Black bears in the Smoky Mountains are omnivores, meaning that they eat plants and animals. Typically they will snack on fish, grass, roots, berries, and insects. Sometimes they have been known to eat small animals, but they mostly stick to the previously mentioned foods.
3. They can live up to 30 years in the wild.
While there are some black bears in captivity, including in this area, they can live up to 30 years in the wild. On average, they tend to live between 10 and 20 years. The oldest known black bear lived to be 39.
4. Weight can range from 200 to 600 pounds.
These creatures are pretty stocky, and they pack on the pounds before winter. Female black bears in the Smoky Mountains average around 100 pounds, while the males hover around 250 pounds. However, in the fall, their weight almost doubles. The heaviest black bear on record was around 600 pounds.
5. Cubs stay with their mother for about 2 years.
Baby black bears in the Smoky Mountains are uber popular, and it’s not hard to see why! They’re super cute and fluffy, but you definitely want to leave them be if you come across any. Mama bear is somewhere nearby! And this little family typically stays together for about 2 years after the babies are born.
6. Black bears don’t technically hibernate.
This last fun fact may be a bit of a shocker, but it’s true! Black bears don’t truly hibernate by the scientific definition. Yes, they do sleep for long periods of time in a den, but they are too large to properly get rid of body heat required to go into a true hibernation state. Plus, if a female is pregnant, she will give birth during this period of time. That’s why you may spot a bear or two during winter!
We know you love black bears in the Smoky Mountains, and now you know a little more about them! Can’t wait to come to the Smokies and enjoy seeing wildlife? Start planning your next trip by booking one of our Pigeon Forge hotel rooms!