4 Things to Do When You See Animals While Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

January 15, 2020

Everyone hopes they will see wildlife when hiking in the Smoky Mountains. There’s nothing cooler than walking along and seeing a white-tailed deer grazing on grass or a black bear climbing a tree. While seeing these creatures in their natural habitat is exciting, you want to be sure you stay safe and the animals stay safe. Here are 4 things you should do when you see animals while hiking in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Stay a Safe Distance Away

white tailed deer in the smoky mountainsOne of the worst things you can do when you see wildlife in the Smokies is to try to get closer to them. Most people want to get a closer look, but that isn’t good for several reasons. If you see a black bear, you should be at least 50 yards, or 150 feet, away from them. Getting any closer to these creatures is illegal in the national park. During mating season, male elk have been known to charge. You don’t want to approach these animals and make them feel threatened because they could turn on you in a second. You’ll want to stay a safe distance away from all wild animals.

2. Create Space Between You

If you happen to notice that you got close to a wild animal, you will want to put space between you and the animal. Most animals are scared of people, and they will run from you, such as white-tailed deer, raccoons, and foxes. However, black bears have been known to lose their fear of humans because of food conditioning. If you notice you are close to any kind of wildlife, you should slowly back away to create space between you and the animal.

3. Do Not Feed Animals

elk in the smoky mountainsYou should never feed any wild animal. Like previously mentioned, when you feed wild animals, they lose their natural instinct to fear humans. When they lose this fear, they are more likely to become a nuisance. Some animals that have lost their fear of people have had to be euthanized in the past, and no one wants this to happen to future animals. Plus, bears usually live 12 to 15 years in the wild, but bears who have consumed human food live half that live expectancy.

4. Use Binoculars or Cameras

If you want to closely watch animals while you’re out hiking in the Smoky Mountains, you should bring binoculars or a camera with you. By using these devices, you can keep a safe distance between yourself and the wild animal. They may continue to go about their business, and you’ll be able to see what they do without bothering them. Plus, if you have your camera, you can snap some great pictures to remember your hike in the Smoky Mountains!

Knowing what you should and shouldn’t do while you’re out hiking in the Smoky Mountains is important, especially when it relates to wildlife. We want people and animals to stay safe, but we also want you to be able to enjoy these creatures while you’re in their territory. Looking for even more safety tips? Read about these hiking safety tips!