Black Bear in Gatlinburg Opens Car Door, Climbs Inside — Video Included!

black bear in gatlinburg walking along a road
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If you thought the days of bears breaking into cars were over, think again! At the end of January 2020, a group of Smoky Mountain visitors got a surprise at their cabin when they saw a black bear open their car door and climb inside. We’ve got all the details on the black bear encounter and what to do if you see a black bear in Gatlinburg outside your cabin rental!

Black Bear Climbs in Car

A group of people staying in a Gatlinburg cabin were surprised this January when they walked outside to find a family of black bears walking around the parking lot. The surprise didn’t end there, however. One managed to open their car door and climb inside! The visitors pulled out their phone and started filming once the bear got inside, and they set off car alarms to try to scare all the bears away. In the video, the bears can be seen strolling away from the cars and into the trees nearby. Fortunately, none of the vehicles in the parking lot were damaged by the bears.

What to Do if You See a Bear at Your Cabin

black bear on deck of cabin in GatlinburgSightings of black bears in Gatlinburg are not uncommon, so it’s important to know what to do if you see one. Here are some tips of what to do if you see a bear at your cabin rental:

1. Stay inside / away from the bear.

If you happen to spot a bear from your cabin’s window, the best thing to do is to stay inside. Don’t go outside to get a closer look at the bear because you can be putting both yourself and the bear in danger. If you happen to already be outside when you spot the bear, keep yourself a safe distance away. The National Park Service requires people to be at least 50 yards away from all wildlife at all times. If you’re unintentionally closer to the bear, move away slowly and in a way that’s not threatening to the bear.

2. Keep any food or trash you have secured away from the bear.

The main thing that attracts bears is food. If you’re using the grill on your cabin’s deck or are just enjoying a meal outside, be sure that all your trash is thrown away inside or in a bear-proof trash can. Clean the grill after you use it so the smell of the leftover grease and any leftover scraps doesn’t attract bears.

3. Make noise to try to scare it away.

black bear sitting in grass with tongue outIf you’re trying to scare the bear away, the best idea is to make a lot of noise. This includes setting off the car alarm like the visitors did in the video above. Loud, unpleasant sounds can make the bears feel uneasy, leading to them backing away. You can also make noise by yelling as loud as possible.

Bonus Tip: Make sure your car doors are locked at all times. If you want to avoid a black bear climbing inside of your car, keep food inside the house and keep all your car doors locked so they can’t open the door easily and hop inside.

Black Bears in Gatlinburg Breaking into Cars

This isn’t the only instance caught on camera of black bears climbing into cars in Gatlinburg! There have been numerous cases of black bears opening car doors and rummaging through cars looking for food. Check out these occurrences over the past couple of years:

More About Wildlife in the Smoky Mountains

whitetail deer grazing along the Cades Cove Loop RoadBlack bears aren’t the only type of wildlife you have the chance to see when you visit the Smoky Mountains! The Smokies are home to everything from birds, to wild turkeys, to white-tailed deer, to salamanders! When you explore the Smoky Mountains, you’ll have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of all these animals and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about wildlife in the Smoky Mountains and how to safely view it, read our blog, “Where and When to Spot Your Favorite Smoky Mountain Wildlife.”

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