Rich Mountain Road closed due to bear activity

GATLINBURG, Tenn.— After a visitor within their vehicle encountered a bear that has become habituated to humans and vehicles, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that Rich Mountain Road in the Cades Cove area will be closed to all traffic starting Saturday, August 5, until further notice. The visitor experienced minor scratches and did not contribute to the bear’s habituation. The road will be closed to give bears in the area an opportunity to eat and forage undisturbed.

“By closing Rich Mountain Road, we are protecting people and bears,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “When people intentionally attract bears with human food or pet food it can lead to a dangerous situation for visitors, local communities, and the bears.”

August is a critical time of year for bears when berries, acorns, and other primary food sources are not in season. Bears will often approach vehicles in search of food. Once someone throws food out of a vehicle toward a bear, or leaves food on the ground, the bear becomes conditioned to that food and that experience. Over time, food-conditioned bears may become bold and aggressive in their attempts to obtain human food and may approach vehicles and people. A female bear will teach that inappropriate and dangerous behavior to her cubs.

Park visitors and residents of local communities can help ensure their safety and the future of black bears by taking responsible steps to prevent bears from becoming conditioned to human food, pet food, and trash. Never intentionally approach, feed, or leave food or trash out for a bear. Do not stop along roadways in the vicinity of bears and always remain 50 yards (150 feet) or more from bears. Photographers should use telephoto lenses. For tips and more information, visit BearWise®, which teaches people how to live and recreate responsibly in bear habitat.

To report a bear incident or unusual bear activity in the Smokies, call 865-436-1230. For more information about temporary road and trail closures at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please visit the park’s Current Road, Facility, Trail & Backcountry Updates webpage.

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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